Does amount of time spent on social media affect mental health?
March 28th, 2022, Rishad Dsouza

Does amount of time spent on social media affect mental health?

YouGov Profiles data shows that about four in five Brits (79%) and Americans (80%) use social media.

Considering its widespread use, it’s also worth considering the impact social media might be having on mental health. YouGov Profiles reveals a correlation between the amount of time people spend on social media and whether or not they feel mentally healthy.

Over two in five Brits who use social media for less than one hour a week say they feel mentally healthy (43%). A similar portion of Brits who use social media for between one to five hours say the same (45%). What’s more, the share of mentally healthy individuals improves to half of those who spend between six to ten hours on social media (51%). From there on, however, there is a steep drop-off.

Less than two in five of those who spend anywhere between 11-20 hours on social media report feeling mentally healthy (37%). Among those who are reading, posting, or interacting on these platforms between 21-30 hours, only three in ten say they feel mentally healthy. The share of self-reported mentally healthy people further reduces to just a quarter of Brits who spend over 30 hours on social media.

In the US, the relationship between time spent using social media and the portion of consumers reporting feeling mentally healthy is more linear. Americans who spend less than an hour on social media are most likely to feel mentally healthy, with three in five indicating so (59%).

This rate steadily declines with each time bracket. Over half of those who spend between one to 15 hours on social media say they are mentally healthy (53% - 55%). The rate drops to under half of those who spend 16-20 hours on social media (47%). Starting at the 21–25-hour bracket and beyond, only two in five consumers say they feel mentally healthy (40% to 42%).

Social media has brought the world closer, has made it possible for the masses to connect with their favourite celebrities and brands and find fellowship. But like with most things, moderation might be the key. Although correlation does not equate to causation, of course, marketers of tools that promote mental wellbeing could potentially aim more of their messaging at slices of audience who spend large amounts of time on social media platforms.

Receive monthly topical insights about the health and pharmaceutical industry, straight to your inbox. Sign up today.

Discover more health and pharma content here

Want to run your own research? Start building a survey now

Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.