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How do social networks make people unhappy?

How do social networks make people unhappy?

Social media connects and entertains, but it can also negatively affect emotional health, relationships, and productivity. Learn more about this topic.

Elena Sanz

Written and reviewed Psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last updated: June 13, 2023

Social networks have become a popular hobby, but they make many unhappy: It has a negative effect on the ability to focus, often destroys self-esteem and often leads to relationship problems. Apathy, fear and loneliness are other consequences that trap very few who develop dependence on social networks.

We talk below about the psychological mechanisms behind this phenomenon.

The effect of social networks on mental health

Social networks can be a useful tool, provide entertainment, and have other benefits as well. Among other things, they can promote new learning methods that have a positive effect on neuroplasticity It can be seen among digital natives. You will be more efficient at multitasking and will also find answers to certain questions faster.

one in the magazine Personality and individual differences The published study also states that social networks During the COVID-19 lockdown Help reduce stress. In this case, the social comparison was positive: We all had to deal with this situation. Social networks have enabled communication and new connections in difficult times. also mPeople with mental health problems can share experiences and information and get support from other people in similar situations(Naslund et al2014).

Also interesting: irrational self-demanding through social networks

Why do social networks make people unhappy?

However, when social media use gets out of control, it makes you miserable. We analyze the reasons for this.


When you scroll through Instagram or TikTok for hours and lose track of time, Leave reality behind and immerse yourself in the digital world. This leads to a negative and detached attitude: you are no longer aware of what you see and do not retain any information. This detachment can create pleasant feelings: you enjoy that mental feeling, among other things, when you’re stressed.

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However, in many cases, this kind of distraction causes Guilt and frustration: You feel like you’re wasting a lot of time and not being productive (Baughan et al.2022).

Addiction and lack of focus

Social networks on your smartphone accompany you anytime and anywhere: you are always connected, which can lead to hasty and compulsive use. However, this often results Concentration and self-control problems (Rodríguez & Barrio, 2015) that lead to addictive behaviors, dissatisfaction and lack of productivity (Sun & Zhang, 2021).


The fact that social networks make people unhappy is shown by the results of in Plus one Clearly published study. In it, scientists found it Emotional and cognitive well-being decreases with time spent on Facebook. On the one hand, social networks lead to comparison with others, in which we often lose (upward social comparison).

This leads to great discomfort and dissatisfactiont and have significant negative effects on self-esteem (Jan et al.2017).

Personal struggles

Finally, networks influence the way we interact with others. And because we are social beings, this has a negative impact on our well-being. An example of this is that of social networks Putting the individual above the social group and encouraging intolerance.

already read? Do social networks increase the risk of depression?

Use social networks correctly

All of the above information does not mean that social networks are inherently bad. On the contrary, you just have to be aware of these and some other risks Take action to stay in control. Some tips so that social networks do not make you unhappy:

  • Use networks consciously. Don’t use it to escape reality or to deal with complex or negative emotions.
  • Choose wisely the content you consume. Instead of getting sucked into random content, choose what you watch consciously. It is better to choose rich content that provides you with knowledge or allows you to enjoy healthy entertainment without social comparisons.
  • Plan and limit your usage time. Set a specific amount of time to dedicate to social media and don’t exceed that time.
  • Don’t be fooled by the effect of anonymity on the Internet. Remember that there is a human being behind every account and the same respect and appreciation we show in real life should be reflected in online conversations. This will prevent you from polarizing or engaging in unpleasant actions or uncomfortable discussions.
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In the end, social media makes people unhappy if they don’t control their consumption. Acting responsibly and making the right choices will help ensure that your time on social media is fulfilling and safe.

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All mentioned sources have been thoroughly checked by our team for quality, reliability, timeliness and validity. The bibliography of this article has been deemed reliable and academically or scholarly accurate.

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