Scrolling through photos on Instagram or reading updates on Facebook can be draining. It can seem as if everyone else is having more fun or achieving greater success or getting more likes for their photos and status updates.
Yet social media is also how many people stay connected with long-distance friends or cousins they'd otherwise see only once a year at family reunions.
So how can people reap the benefits of social media without letting it harm their mental health?
Researchers have come up with a few easy-to-follow tips. But first, what are the dangers that social media users may face?
HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT HOW SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH
Several studies have linked social media use with depression, envy, lower self-esteem, and social anxiety. A recent paper reported that one in three young adults who see images of cutting on Instagram will also engage in cutting in a similar manner.
Yet this body of research often faces the criticism that people who already have mental-health challenges are likely to spend more time on social media, rather than social media being the cause of their illness.
One study that followed British teenagers over eight years found social media has limited effects on the typical adolescent's well-being. It was mostly harmful for vulnerable groups, such as teens predisposed to depression and anxiety.
Because most studies focus on specific populations -- teens or young girls, for instance -- it's hard to know for sure how social media affects mental health for the overall population.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH