The Pros and Cons of Using Social Media

Social media has been around since the 1990s but it gained increasing popularity around 2005.  Now we cannot imagine life without it.  There are myriad pros and cons to using social media.  This article will briefly review some of those pros and cons.  Research demonstrates that the first time we begin responding to social media notifications, dopamine is released in the brain which makes us feel good.  Dopamine is known as the “happy hormone” and is responsible for us experiencing happiness.  The brain releases it when we eat a food that we have been craving, have sex, or use certain substances (e.g. cocaine).  Dopamine boosts mood, motivation, and attention and assists in regulating movement, learning and emotional responses.  It is part of our brain’s reward system.  This might be one of the many reasons that heavy social media users have to increase using it more often to get the same pleasurable sensation they had when they first started using it.

Below are some of the pros and cons to consider when evaluating your social media usage.


Some of the pros of using social media include its ability to connect people together.  For example, we get the opportunity to see what our family and friends are doing regardless of where they live in the world.  Social media can be a powerful tool to help us maintain relationships with individuals from our past and provide us with opportunities to develop new personal and professional relationships.  Although an exhaustive list of pros are beyond this article, a few are listed below.  Social media can:

  • Can spread information quickly to large amounts of people
  • Connect people who are suffering and provide them with an opportunity for social support (e.g. those who are grieving or have certain health conditions)
  • Provides an opportunity to develop supportive online communities
  • Provides law enforcement with a powerful tool to catch and prosecute criminals
  • Can enhance the education of students and build educational connections in unique and creative ways
  • Can be used to seek and find diverse employment opportunities (LinkedIn)
  • Can be used for social justice issues
  • Can increase education around health issues
  • Can reduce stigma around mental health and other issues
  • Can connect professional communities (e.g. researchers, businesses)
  • Presents opportunities for unique collaborations with others
  • Allows for rapid communication in times of crisis (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Provides unique opportunities for professional development


Just like any tool, there are some downsides to using it.  Because social media is still relatively new from a historical perspective, we are still evaluating some of the negatives of using it. One of the cons is that one does not always know who is on the other end of a social media account.  Fake social media accounts are easily created and false information and statements are easily circulated without proper verification .  A significant con of social media is that it has taken away the privacy that most people enjoyed two decades ago. Today, privacy is an illusion.  For example, in today’s world, if someone takes an unflattering picture of another, it can quickly be disseminated to thousands of people in an instant.  Other downsides of using social media include:

  • It can contribute to social isolation
  • It can be used as an effective tool for bullying
  • It is often used to snoop on others
  • People who use it are more likely to social compare themselves to others
  • Presents a false idea of “friendship”
  • Research has shown that it can increase feelings of depression and anxiety
  • It can present false narratives about others and facts that cannot be easily verified
  • We actually do not know who is on the other end of a social media account
  • Not everyone has equal access
  • Can spread misinformation to large amounts of people
  • Can be used as a tool of hate (spreading racism, homophobia, classism, etc.)
  • Can expose children to developmentally inappropriate material
  • Can lead to addiction
  • Can be used to rule out job applicants based on personal things they have posted or others have posted about them

The above pros and cons of using social media are only a few.  We are still finding our way with social media and what it means to humankind as a whole.  The above pros and cons should be evaluated based on the developmental level of the user (child vs. adult), purpose of use (pleasure vs. professional), how much time one spends on social media platforms, if usage begins to detract from one’s relationships and abilities to do well in school or work, if usage continues to significant social comparisons to others and feelings of depression and anxiety, and if one struggles to enjoy other aspects of life that do not include social media.  Social media is here to stay.  Learning to use it well and in positive ways is important to our mental and emotional well-being.

Young adults on their phones

About Dr. Katherine Helm

Katherine is a Chicagoland native, professor, and psychologist who enthusiastically wants to help people have strong mental health and healthy, fulfilling relationships. Katherine is a licensed psychologist with over 24 years of experience working with adolescents, adults, couples and groups in multiple clinical settings including college counseling, psychiatric hospitals, community mental health, and private practice. She has authored multiple books on working with couples, sex education for high school and college students, and mental health issues in the African American community. Currently, she is the Director of a Clinical Mental Health Graduate Programs for Lewis University. You can learn more about her areas of expertise at:

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