She may be Instagram’s third most-followed celebrity account, but Selena Gomez has revealed that the negative impact of social media on her mental health has led her to remove the app from her phone.
On last Wednesday’s episode of “Live with Kelly and Ryan”, the 26-year-old admitted to the hosts that she does not have the Instagram app on her cellphone, instead opting to keep her account on someone else’s phone and only logging in when she has something to share with her fanbase.
Despite previously using the platform to interact with her 152 million followers, negative comments started to wear down her confidence and increase feelings of depression. “I use to [use Instagram] a lot, but I think it’s just become really unhealthy for young people, including myself, to spend all of their time fixating on all these comments and letting this stuff in,” she said.
This is not the first time that the actress/singer has spoken out about the dangerous effects of social media on mental health. Speaking in an interview at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Gomez said, “I think our world is going through a lot obviously. But for my generation specifically, social media has been terrible.” She explained that it would be “impossible” to make the platform a safe place free from bullies at this point.
The star spoke about how social media had a negative effect on her self-esteem and that “it would make me feel not good about myself, and look at my body differently.” Being an influence on so many people around the world, Gomez tries only to post messages and photos online in a constructive manner, keeping in mind the dangers of online pressure for her young fans.
“I’m very grateful I have the platform in any way, I can still share things I’m passionate about,” she said. “I don’t take a lot of pointless pictures – I like to be intentional with it. I see these young girls, devastated with bullying and not being able to have my voice.” She went on to add, “It can be great in moments, but I would be careful and give yourself time limits in terms of when you can use it and not.”
Gomez added that even while living in an online world, many young people are unaware or uneducated on certain news issues. “It’s a useful platform but it does scare me when you see young boys and girls not really aware of the news going on,” she went on. “It’s selfish – I don’t want to say selfish, that’s rude – but it’s dangerous for sure.
Selena Gomez is not the only celebrity that has contributed to the discussion of the harmful impact of social media on mental health. Other stars such as Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift have all taken breaks from social media at one point or another. Along with that, increasing research show that the rise of digital media may contribute to the significant rise in mental health issues over the last decade.
Research published by the National Center for Health Research states that in 2016, an estimated 44.7 million adults aged 18 and over in the United States had a mental illness. The highest prevalence of mental illness was in young adults aged 18-25 at 22.1%. Adults aged 26-49 were placed at 21.1% and aged 50 and older at 14.5%. This isn’t to say that the prevalence of mental illness in young adults is directly linked to asocial media, but social media has become immensely popular among young adults in recent years.
According to data analyzed from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is a nationally representative survey on drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, and other health-related issues in the United States, the rate of individuals who reported symptoms of major depression in the last 12 months increased 63% in young adults aged 18-25 from 2009 to 2017.
Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, states that “the way teens and young adults spend their leisure time has fundamentally changed. They spend less time with their friends in person, less time sleeping, and more time on digital media,” Twenge added. “The decline in sleep time may be especially important, as not getting enough sleep is a major risk factor for depression and suicidal thoughts.” Twenge noted, digital media is “something that happens to them every day, for hours at a time,” she said. “So, it makes sense it would have the largest impact on their mental health.”
Another study carried out by the University of Pennsylvania and published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology asked 140 undergraduate students to either continue their normal use of social platforms of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram or limit each to 10 minutes (30 total) per day. They were asked to fill out questionnaires before and after the study in order for researchers to understand how they were doing psychologically, particularly with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and the “fear of missing out.”
As expected, the participants who limited their social media use to 30 minutes a day felt significantly better after the three-week period, reporting reduced symptoms of depression and loneliness, especially those who came into the study with higher levels of depression. Interestingly, both groups had less anxiety in the end, which the researchers suggest may be associated with increased self-monitoring.
Stars like Selena Gomez are certainly doing their part in raising awareness of the potentially harmful effects of social media on mental health. While we don’t need to cut away completely from the digital age of social media, it’s important to monitor the time we spend as well as our own feelings in order to prevent mental health issues. If you do experience mental health issues, you’re not alone. Give us a call today at (888) 346-4350 for more information on the mental health treatment programs we offer.