Social Media and Your Brain

Do a quick Google search on how social media affects your mood, and the results make it seem like all the social media platforms will plunge you into depression. Facebook shows everyone’s perfect life and exotic vacations. Expertly curated selfies abound on Instagram. But, if you look at the actual research, the results aren’t that simple.

All social media platforms are not created equal. The relationship between social media use and depression is complex, depending on what platform you use and how you use it — it can make you feel lonely and down, or it can make you feel more connected and supported. This is especially true with Snapchat. It’s pretty new to the research world, so it hasn’t been studied for that long. But, it may be that Snapchat affects your brain in a fundamentally different way.

Learn More…

ARTICLE: Facebook Blues: How You Use the Site Can Make You Depressed, Say Research (KQED Science)

GUIDELINES: Feeling Lonely? Too Much Time On Social Media May Be Why (NPR)

ABOVE THE NOISE, a new YouTube series from KQED, follows young journalists as they investigate real world issues that impact young people’s lives. These short videos prompt critical thinking with middle and high school students to spark civic engagement. Join hosts Myles Bess and Shirin Ghaffary for new episodes published every Wednesday on YouTube.

Is Social Media Making You Sick? 12 March,2018Derek Lartaud

  • Adrian Astorga

    i don’t think energy drinks should be more regulated. Energy drinks have been around for some time now and people are pretty aware of their side effects. Most people only drink energy drinks to get that little extra kick in their day, or have a cup of coffee. Coffee is a more commonly consumed drink by people of all ages and it is proven that coffee contains between 100mg and 150mg of caffeine while energy drinks contain to as a low of 50mg of caffeine. Companies are already starting to provide on their labels the amount of caffeine contained in their product that should be enough so a person knows not to consume too much on a daily basis. #DoNowEnergyDrinks #MyCMSTArgs

    • Melanie Funk

      I like that you mentioned coffee. I mentioned alcohol to the fact that people are going to drink it no matter what. As long as you give them the facts, they can do what they want from there. #MyCMSTArgs

  • Melanie Funk

    I believe energy drinks are very similar to the idea of alcohol. You know all of the risks, warnings are on the bottles and it’s up to you whether or not to drink it. As for minors, we should leave it up to their parents to decide if they want their children drinking them or not. Adding this ban will not necessarily protect minors from anything, much less stop them from drinking them. This article goes into further detail why energy drinks shouldn’t be ban. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Stone Dennison

      I totally agree, we should let the parents decide. This topic merely comes down to personal perspective. Do you believe the government has the right pass restrictive legislation? Is the legislation over-stepping and bad for personal freedoms? I believe when under 18, it is the responsibility of the parents. We should educate, not regulate. Get this info out there, the stuff is bad for you and your health. Drink a healthy caffeinated alternative such as green tea or coffee. For some perspective on the argument look at what other are saying. #myCMSTArgs #DoNowEnergyDrinks

  • Stone Dennison

    I believe energy drinks should be allowed to people of age 14+ and up. This age is when we enter into high school, and usually enter into increasingly difficult academic loads as well. Caffeine in moderation can be used as a tool for people alike to narrow focus and productivity. If kids shouldn’t drink energy drinks, should they also not drink coffee do its caffeine consent as well? The video claimed may things as well as how it can lead to obesity among other things, energy drinks also come in sugar free options. If someone is under 18, it is up to the parent to decide if they are allowed to drink such beverages. #myCMSTArgs #DonowEnergyDrinks

  • Stone Dennison

    I believe some of us use social media and access to quick technology as a drug. We use it for a quick shot of dopamine in my opinion. We find ourselves mindlessly scrolling through social media everyday when we are bored and have nothing to do, and even when we are busy and in class. It seems to be an escape from reality, when it is nothing more than a waste of time. Social media gives us power to reach out to people and communicate in various ways. But, it seems to be keeping us from interacting with each other on a in person interactive level. It would not surprise me if depressed people used social and snapchat to mask their depression, as it is an escape from the reality they are in otherwise. #myCMSTArgs #DoNowSocialMedia

    • Owen Smith

      I couldn’t agree more. There a clear examples of all of these scenarios that can be seen on any given day. People constantly with their nose pressed against their phones, or prioritizing a Facebook stream as someone else speaks aimlessly to the back of their heads. Your relating of social media to a drug is very accurate, as it is very hard for people to stop once they have started. As previously stated, I heartily agree with everything you have stated here.
      #myCMSTArgs #DoNowSocialMedia

  • Carina Romero

    i do believe that it is important that the new generations should guide these young children on how to use social media in a way that is for good and not bad like bullying. social media can lead to cyber bullying or it can eat to overcoming it and meeting good positive people. i do think that parents shouldn’t control the use of the child’s social media but to guide them. they should educate them on how to use social media on whats good and bad. but these kids need to experience it themselves and explore on whether what media is appropriate for them or not. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Mackenna Neal

      I really like your point about cyber bullying or mental health issues. We need to raise awareness about the side effects of social media. #DoNowSnapchat #MyCMSTArgs @disqus_yrY0hRfjE4:disqus

  • Mackenna Neal

    Social media can have a very bad affect on young adults. I do not think that parents and teachers should be able to regulate social media though. If social media were to be heavily regulated, it would only increase how much kids want to use it. I believe that the issue of kids becoming depressed from social media is a topic that should have more awareness. If everyone knew the side effects of being on social media too much maybe the amount of hours and person spends on it will lessen. Attention needs to brought to social media users about what they are looking at and how it may not be as real as it seems. Some famous snapchatters and instagramers spend hours editing a single photos to make it look perfect. There is nothing perfect about that. Don’t believe everything you see. #DoNowSnapchat #MyCMSTArgs @disqus_yrY0hRfjE4:disqus

  • Luke Williams

    I think parents can teach their kids about social media but shouldn’t control their kids activity. My parents didn’t grow up on social media and i basically grew up on Myspace and Aim. I learned these things socially not because my parents told me about it. When my generation becomes parents I think some of us will control our kids social media use when some of us will be hands off because thats how we did it growing up. I think kids will continue to learn from the people they surround themselves with in school since adults work all day and kids go to school all day kids spend more time with their friends than their own parents.

    #DoNowSnapChat #MyCMSTArgs

  • Jonny Ballesteros

    Social media is something that is growing and making our society in a go crazy. Younger children are becoming more and more dependent on social media. From relying on receiving their news and simply feeling liked through it, social media is taking over. We need to regulate social media so that it does not become a bigger problem in our society. Parents and teachers should have the opportunity to help those that are trap in the social media world. #MyCmstArgs #DoNowSnapchat

    • Celeste Villegas

      You bring up some good points, but I don’t think regulation is the key to fixing the issue. Parents and teachers should instead teach their youth the good and bad consequences of social media. Its also important that parents and teachers make their own social media accounts to incentive their children to make good decisions. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat

  • Carrie Requa

    I think parents should have a say to an extent depending on a few different criteria. For someone who is around 10-15, I think parents should be monitoring what they are putting out there. I don’t know about everyone else, but I posted a few things in middle school and beginning of high school that I absolutely wish my parents would have monitored so they would have told me to not post it. I have also now seen 12 and 13 year olds posting things that are extremely inappropriate to where I think to myself “I wonder if their parents know they’re posting this”. On the issue of schools monitoring, I don’t think they should have a say at all. Its not their kid, they shouldn’t be controlling what they can or can’t post. #myCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat

  • Taylor MacAndrew

    Parents and teachers should not be able to use social media regulation as another form of control. By regulating children’s social media, I believe this will only encourage them to want to use it more. Social media is still up and coming, so of course it is being used abundantly. But for many children, this new online tool is also a free space for self-expression and a way to keep in touch. At this point, to regulate children’s social media use could be devastating. Instead, it would be more beneficial to actively advertise the cost/benefit analysis found by researchers on social media usage. That way more children can make the educated decision themselves, on when enough is enough. #donowsnapchat #myCMSTArgs

  • Celeste Villegas

    I believe like with any new technology there will be good and bad consequences, and social media is no exception. Social media has created safe spaces for people to express their emotions, opinions,and thoughts. It has brought people together by creating platforms in which people can make new friends or share likes and dislikes. However, it has also brought up the issue of cyber bulling which has lead to many users to become depressed or feeling attacked. I think parents should first talk to their children about social media and show them the good and bad consequences, before they allow their child to get a social media account. Parents can’t prevent their children from using social media, as it is slowly becoming a key component to getting a job or building good relationships. We need to show our youth and others to not only be safe and responsible on social media but to realize that it can be a powerful tool. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat

    • Christiana Manzanares

      I agree with you that with any technology, social media can be both good or bad. It is up to oneself and how they use it. I also agree with you that it is not possible for parents to completely regulate or prevent their children from using social media. Kids will find a way to do what they want especially if their parents are telling them no. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat #DoNowSocialMedia

  • Christiana Manzanares

    I think that social media is entirely up to how you use it. It can be looked upon as a very bad or very good thing depending on how you utilize it. I do not believe that parents or teachers should have a say in what social media you use and how you use it for the most part. I understand some parental regulation depending on how old you are but for the most part I think you should be able to use social media how you please. The world wide web is a crazy, interesting, at the same time dangerous place. I understand why some might want teachers and parents to regulate it however, I think people are going to do what they want. I also believe that when someone tells you, you cannot do something it makes it that much more tempting to do it. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSocialMedia #DoNowSnapchat

  • Fernando Hernandez

    Social media in my opinion is a waste of time and just dumb. But that’s just me. No one ever goes to someone’s house to say, “Hello” in person. We would rather FaceTime,snapchat, Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, or send a damn text with a smiley face. What happened to the good days? Without any of this social garbage, no one would be informed about what’s going outside, because their cooped up like a damn chicken inside the house, in front of a screen, typing your thoughts. Verbal communication has died, because of social media. The day we lose technology or electricity worldwide, then we will truly see how we operate without it helping us in everyday situations. Plus people are shy, and have a fear of public speaking due to social media. Will it be stopped? No. It’s just another reason to be tracked by gps or some stalker. Everyone has the decision to decided.
    #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSocialMedia @laczkoWord@KQEDedspace

  • Robert Gomez

    I believe that parents and teachers should not try to control how teens and our youth uses social media on the fact that if they try to control it then teens are going to just rebel. They should be guided in what to where they learn what is a reasonable amount of time to actually use social media. There are many cons with social media such as it is bad for your eyes to be staring at the screen all day long and it can distract you from doing important tasks. Social media can also cause you to not be able to properly sleep at night which can cause health problems. I do believe that social media is very good at helping people keep connected together and stay in contact. It is also a good source to find and learn news, There are both cons and pros to social media but it should be just better used and not be overused. #DoNowSnapchat #MyCMSTArgs

    • Jacob Lux

      I agree with many of your points Robert, people don’t realize how bad and good for social media can be. I think it all depends which form of social media you’re using and how much you use it. Apps such as snapchat and instagram won’t cause many benefits for you in regards to learning new things but will help you stay connected with people and can be very beneficial to your social life and happiness. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat

  • Jacob Lux

    I don’t believe parents should regulate or control their child’s social media use to a certain extent. For example, if the child is using social media too much and its affect their social life and academics, then I believe the parents should step in. In other cases though, where the child uses it and it truly makes them happy and they aren’t doing anything inappropriate, then I don’t see any reason for parent figures to take control. Social media can many positive impacts on teens, explains the different connections they can make and how it keeps them up to date on current events and attentive to issues going on around the world. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat

    • Trevor Ramsey

      If parents are able to notice an addiction to social media it is a result of bad parenting. Kids are becoming addicted to social media for the release of dopamine it gives them when someone likes their picture of videos. If the parents had incorporated another way to achieve that feeling without staring at a phone screen there wouldn’t be any depression.

  • Trevor Ramsey

    I do not believe it social media should be restricted by parents or teachers. However, I feel that we should address the negative side of social media as well. People turn to social media seeking pleasure. The American Marketing Association claims the more likes you receive, the more dopamine gets released by the brain. Instead of restricting the platform, find something else that your child would feel as passionately about. Feeling accomplished and proud of something might not make them seek the attention on social media. #DoNowSocialMedia #MyCMSTArgs

  • Brooke Ponke

    There are both benefits and consequences for everything in this world, including social media. The best thing that parents and teachers can do about protecting others from the so called dangers of social media is to talk about the unintended consequences it has on its’ users. As Derek Lartaud stated in the video, social media fundamentally changes the way our brain processes things. This is because the media believes that we are addicted to social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Katherine Hobson stated that while face-to-face social connectedness is strongly associated with well-being, it’s not clear what happens when those interactions happen virtually. There also seems to be a connection with social isolation and the use of social media. She described in her article how the more one uses social media, the greater social isolation is. Despite the looming dangers that social media poses to users, there are many great things about social media that many people are unaware of. Platforms like Facebook and other sites are places where opinions and voices can be shared and expressed. Parents and teachers should, however, not have the ability to fully control what or how you use social media, but rather guide you.

  • Nyle Khouja

    Funny topic considering were using this website combined with Twitter to post about our opinions. I feel that everyone has their own opinion on social media use and it should be dealt with on a person to person basis. Parents should do what ever they feel, with in reason, to control or limit their child’s social media use. Its their own style of parenting because everyone’s different. Teachers should encourage the use of social media. Why not? We use it almost every 30 minutes, looking at Instagram or whatever. We have the ability to talk to millions of people at once, well depending on your friends and shares. Its a powerful tool to have, if you use it the right way. We live in an age where the president tweets often, kinda strange at times because it almost feels like your grandpa using the internet. Either way social media is a part of our lives now and wont go away. Its here to stay, but will constantly be evolving. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat @2ndheartmom

  • eric m

    overall parents should always have a say so when you are under there watch and still living with them, for example college students literally can do what they want when comes to social media and all those good things but for teenagers that are still in middle school and high school parents most definitely should have a say so because now social media and entertainment has been getting worse by the years and parents should feel the obligation to make sure there kids are at least in safe environment at and away from home #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowSnapchat

  • William E. Gamble

    Of Course parents and teachers should be involved with the youth and how they use social media. Kids are so immature they believe anything. Some kids post all kinds of personal and drug related stuff too, not thinking about the fact that everyone can see this, including prospective employers. #MyCMSTArgs

  • lorianne webb

    this is so unusuel i love social media follow me on instergram loriannewebb lol my name on facebook is ryker siva lol


Derek Lartaud

Derek Lartaud came to the Bay Area after nearly five years of researching schizophrenia and diabetes at Yale University. Determined to tell visual stories, he’s worked for the BBC, Al Jazeera America, TIME, PBS, and the Center for Investigative Reporting. He has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and a master’s degree in journalism. When not holding a camera or editing a story, he’s trying to rebuild his 1969 Honda CL350.

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