Focus at Four: Experts say social media breaks are critical for mental well-being

By Heather Falls, KBTX

Studies have shown that reducing social media use to just 30 minutes a day can lead to increased mental health and well-being.

Experts say that excessive use of social media platforms is also found to have a much greater impact.

“We’ve seen that social media use is associated with eating disorders, particularly in female adolescents,” said Dr. Pete Loper, a triple board-certified physician in pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry. “It’s associated with increased depression and anxiety. It is also associated with increased self-harm thoughts, particularly in our children, and adolescents.”


  • Excess social media use is associated with anxiety and depression, poor sleep, declining school or work performance, negative self-beliefs, poor self-esteem, and problems regulating emotions. Excess social media use can promote narcissistic tendencies. Excess social media use can cause a social media addiction. Excess social media use can cause a “dopamine deficit state.”
  • Just like drugs or alcohol, when you use social media, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure and reward. Just like other addictive substances, the more you use social media, the more social media you need to use to get the same pleasure or reward.
  • Excess social media use has been associated with an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially in children and young adults. Excess use of social media is associated with loneliness and social isolation. Natural, unprocessed, nutritious food is a fundamental human need for health and well-being, as are real, face-to-face, interpersonal interactions.
  • Just like overconsumption of fast food promotes obesity, excess social media use promotes loneliness and isolation by limiting real-time, face-to-face, interpersonal interaction.


“One of the main things that I tell my patients is to honor their sacred time,” said Dr. Loper. “When you get home from work and school, put your devices in a basket, and engage with those that you care about with real and meaningful interactions.”

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