Mental Health Injuries Caused by Social Media Harm

Mental Health Injuries Caused by Social Media Harm

Social media is one of the main drivers of human communication today with its ability to connect users with people in their family, friend groups, and communities via social media platforms. Success on a social media platform like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube can provide a great rush of dopamine for users, but social media also has the potential to ruin someone’s day. Bullying, trolling, hateful comments, and continued exposure to negative content can impact someone’s mental health, possibly causing a mental health injury that can majorly affect a person’s quality of life.

Depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, body dysmorphia, anorexia, and suicidal thoughts can all occur after someone suffers from social media harm. Abuse on a social media platform can reach the real world, as students may have to come into contact with their online bully at school. While social media can provide an avenue for connection, it can also significantly damage a person’s life and lead to life-altering mental health injuries.

How Can Social Media Harm Cause a Mental Health Injury?

Social media harm is the negative impact social media platforms can have through their presentation of negative content via algorithms, their use in perpetrating abuse, or their use in cyberbullying.

According to Pew Research Center, about 72% of people use at least one social media platform regularly. That number increases to 81% for youths under eighteen. They use platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube to connect with their local friends and reach a worldwide audience.

While creating a viral post or video can provide personal joy and entertainment the downside of this technology is that it can enable bullying and trolling, avenues for predators to interact with kids, and continued exposure to content that can ruin a person’s day and shatter their self-esteem. A 2020 survey found that about half of youths that use social media regularly experienced some form of cyberbullying. Intense bullying online from people they know and those around the world can affect their mental health and lead to severe injuries that can affect their quality of life.

Depression and Anxiety Caused by Social Media Harm

A Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study from 2019 found that people who use social media at least three hours a day are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Depression is a common medical illness characterized by negative feelings and reduced interest in activities. Sadness can set in, affecting how you think, feel, and act. Negative comments on social media about a person’s looks, personality, or interests can lead to depressive episodes that can make a person question how they live their life and lead to a general malaise for weeks and months.

Anxiety is a persistent fear and worry about everyday situations. While people can experience anxiety in some cases, such as speaking in front of a large group, doing something they’ve never done before, or meeting new people, having an anxiety disorder means they can feel constant fear and experience panic attacks.

When people receive negative comments on social media, they can internalize the taunts and believe they are right. This can lead to anxiety in social situations and lead to someone isolating themselves from their friend group out of fear. Anxiety caused by social media harm is common for students who may have to face their online bully in person at school, leading to them not paying as much attention in class and affecting their grades.

Social Media Harm Can Disrupt a Victim’s Sleep

A symptom of depression and anxiety from social media harm can be disrupted sleep. According to a 2019 study from the British Medical Journal (BMJ), negative social media interactions can affect a person’s sleep. Low self-esteem and negative personal thoughts can affect a person attempting to fall asleep.

Social media harm victims can lay awake at night worrying about cyberbullying they’ve experienced rather than getting a good night’s sleep. They may also experience restless sleeping as they worry about coming face-to-face with their cyberbully at school.

A poor night’s sleep can affect their mood and make them feel fatigued throughout the day. These instances of students fearing going to school are why some school districts have filed lawsuits with tech companies over promoting toxic content to teens and young adults.

Victims of Social Media Harm Can Experience Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder is when someone has overwhelmingly negative thoughts about their body to the point where they worry about them for hours a day. These negative thoughts can consume their existence as they continually worry about their appearance. Others can tell them they look good, but they will still feel inadequate and worry incessantly about how they look.

This mental health disorder can occur when someone receives cyberbullying on social media. Others may post nasty comments about their appearance that can cause them to have lower self-esteem about how they look. This can lead to them avoiding social situations, isolating themselves from friends and family, and possibly taking drastic measures to change their appearance.

Anorexia Caused by Social Media Harm

Someone that suffers from body dysmorphia can also experience anorexia, which is an eating disorder characterized by extreme food restriction and fear of gaining weight. People may begin to starve themselves and eat far less than they should to lose weight because of negative online comments about their appearance.

Social media can also give people a false perception of acceptable beauty standards, as they can see pictures of models and other celebrities that alters what they feel their body should look like. They may develop anorexia as they attempt to lose weight to adhere to these narrow beauty standards. Anorexia is a precarious eating disorder, as it can lead to dangerously low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and frequent illnesses.

Social Media Harm Can Lead to Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts

All of the above mental health issues caused by social media harm can lead to low self-esteem and a negative self-image that can cause someone to turn to self-harm. People that experience online bullying, trolling, and harassment can experience such negative thoughts that they feel self-harm may be their only way out of the situation. They may have such low self-esteem that they see nothing wrong with harming themselves. They may even feel they deserve it because cyberbullying has put them in such a negative place.

These feelings of self-harm can escalate to suicidal thoughts if someone truly feels they are alone in the world. Self-hatred can set in after constant negative and hateful comments. They may feel suicide may be their only option if other avenues to deal with their depression and anxiety fail to help. Feelings of self-harm and suicide are incredibly serious, and those that experience them must speak to mental health experts that can help them through the issues brought about by social media harm. 

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Help With Your Social Media Lawsuit

Social media is a dominant force in culture, making social media harm one of the most prevalent issues facing young adults. The United States Surgeon General has warned about the impact of social media on the youth. Many school districts, such as those in California, Washington State, and Utah, have filed lawsuits with tech companies to hold them accountable for promoting toxic content.

If you suffered social media addiction or harm that negatively affected your life, you could file a social media lawsuit with the tech companies. A social media multi-district litigation (MDL) is attempting to hold tech companies responsible for designing intentionally addictive platforms that can expose young adults to toxic content. 

Hiring a social media lawyer is integral for recovering compensation for damages, as they will know how to get involved in the social media MDL. They can also advise you on the best steps to take to put yourself in the best position to recover fair compensatory damages. Contact an experienced local personal injury lawyer to help with your social media lawsuit.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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