Do we really know the impact of social media use and abuse?

On one hand, social media enables us to connect with people, promote brands and activities, create businesses, and support causes. On the other hand, it can be a harmful tool for negativity, including cyber-bullying, shaming, scams, and threats. Now there are growing concerns about its impact on our mental health.

It's everywhere, we all use it, and it's hard to imagine what our lives would be like without it, but do we really know about the true impact of social media use and abuse? 

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory warning of a teen mental health crisis saying:


(Photo illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"Even though there are some very positive parts of social media, there are some negative things too, so we are seeing some studies looking at the fact that there's been increased anxiety, depression, and even some suicidal ideations, and even suicides because of social media," Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere said. 

Simone Nicole is a content creator who gained huge viral popularity with her videos showing Black women how to care for their hair and wear it beautifully and naturally. She is passionate about redefining beauty to include girls and women who look like her but says it wasn't always easy. She says learning to deal with harsh or hateful feedback helped her to grow and learn to focus on her own goals.

"I experienced some downfalls, but even that, negative comments are negative comments, but the good that has come has been the joy of my life. People who've told me that I've helped them change for the better, have helped them with their self-esteem, with their growth, and their journey. I'm smiling ear to ear, it's priceless," content creator and actor Simone Nicole said.

Social media companies are increasingly coming under fire for harming users' mental health. There's a growing number of private lawsuits where alleged victims are suing for damages. 

Mayor Eric Adams has called social media "a public health hazard." He made headlines with a lawsuit against a handful of the biggest social media companies for allegedly designing their platforms to exploit teen users mental health. The lawsuit stated that it cost the city $100 million for mental health services to help the young people adversely affected.

"It's an emerging legal landscape. There are creative lawsuits, there is proposed legislation, there are congressional hearings, so what we're really seeing is society feeling out how best to regulate this new animal of social media," Criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Eric Faddis said.

Of course, monitoring or limiting your child's social media screen time is easier said than done. Psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, a father of 6, says there's no question it's tough, but it's parents' duty to get it done.