Can Social Media Be Bad For Your Health?

Many of us use social media sites every day of our lives.

From Friendster, MySpace and Bebo through to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

I even remember using Friends Reunited back in the day.

The majority of users are law-abiding citizens, sharing things with their friends and family and using social media for their businesses.

But what about the darker side and can it be bad for your health?

Let’s Get Together With Social Media

When riots happened across the UK last year, the news reports I saw on TV shocked me.  Many of the faces shown on the screen were teenagers, some were barely even into their teens.

The callous looting of businesses, arson, violence and general disorder was quite unnerving.

And the word on the street?  Well, it was spread via social media; Facebook, Twitter and in particular Blackberry Messenger (BBM).

BBM was the weapon of choice because any messages sent are private to recipients and are encrypted during transmission.

Great for a group of rioters co-ordinating their followers but a disaster for the police trying to keep law and order.

Blackberry’s key market was originally business users who needed this kind of encrypted security.  However, since many of Blackberry’s handsets have become more affordable , they have become the phone of choice for many teenagers.

Whilst I’m sure many rioters knew of this encryption, I think it was really more an unfortunate coincidence.

The one thing that really stuck in my mind from the news reports was of an innocent young Malaysian student who was attacked by rioters.

He was punched in the face and under the guise of helping him, a group of men shamelessly stole things from his bag as he stood there bleeding.

He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Friend Request Accepted

No questions asked.  I really hope you’re not a stalker or an internet troll.

I’m sure I recognise you.  Were we at school together?  I’m sure it will be fine to accept.

Have you ever had a Facebook friend request, thought you kind of knew the person so you accepted?

If you have, did you restrict how much of your personal information the person could see?

No, well you may be all right.  99:1 chance it is a legitimate request do you think?

I’ve always thought that the information found on Facebook about privacy settings can be a little confusing.

I came across a couple of useful articles which give some good advice about how you should go about managing your Facebook privacy settings.


And when things go wrong the consequences can be fatal.  Death?  You guessed it.


Let’s Chat

Hey, who needs face-to-face any more?

Let’s chat on Facebook, let’s do a Google hangout, how about Skype?

As more and more of us use electronic devices entire families are communicating with each other using them even when they’re in the same house.

I’ve done it and you probably have too.  My wife could be in her office and I’m in the lounge.

Why bother leaving the comfort of my sofa when I could just sign into Facebook chat on my iPhone and speak to her.

I’m not proud of it but it’s a consequence of having such convenience.

But where does this leave the future of face-to-face social interaction?  And will we all become addicts?


My Last Wish

And if it all goes wrong and the worst happens, there’s even a social network for it.

The ‘My Last Wish’ app is a social network which aims to connect people based on what they want to do before they die.

You can post on a ‘Wish Wall’ and then befriend others who might share your dreams.

I’m not really sure what I think of this.  A little creepy perhaps?  Morbid?  What do you think?


OK, I think you’ve got the picture!

It can be fun to be sociable online and a great way to communicate with people.

Most people are sensible about how they use it but just be aware of what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with.

I appreciate any comments you may have on this topic.  What do you think about the darker side of social media?  Is there a way to control it and if so should we?  Is using it really bad for our health?

Please share this post if you are still feeling social!

Tim Bonner

Tim Bonner is a Stay At Home Dad, Blogger and Internet Marketer. Learn more about him here.

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  • Chris

    Hi Tim,
    thanks for this article. People are using a lot of social networks – sometimes they even don’t know about it. IMHO social media are similar to knife – we can make a lot of good things with it. But we also can hurt with it…
    BR, Chris

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Chris

      That’s an interesting analogy and I think you’re right.

      Social media in the wrong hands could be used for all the wrong reasons.

      Have a great week Chris and thank you for your comments.


  • Jayme Soulati

    So great to know we’re in the same tribe! My first time here; do I get a prize?

    • Tim Bonner

      Hey Jayme

      Great to see you here fellow tribe mate or should that be tribee?

      I’ve been meaning to pop over to your place for a couple of days. You’re in my RSS reader now though so no escaping. I’ll be there in not too long.

      Prize? Hmmm, looking around the room here. How about a packet of my kids’ Haribo? That’s the first thing I saw!

      • Jayme Soulati

        I love gummies! But, bears only; no snakes!

        • Tim Bonner

          There’s only fizzy ones left, they’re not just bears though!

  • Bill Dorman

    It’s unhealthy for me because I sit on my fat ass too much in front of the screen when I should be out and about doing something healthy. Fortunately, I have scaled back considerably….

    I don’t worry too much about privacy settings; if someone wants to get you bad enough there are plenty of avenues to find you. However, no need to be naive either………

    Pass the chips please…………

    • Tim Bonner

      Sitting on my fat ass seems to be a pastime of mine too Bill.

      Although the kids keep me on my toes as well and housework. Boy do I hate it but it can get the blood pumping.

      Now we live in an 18th century tenement block on the top floor, that’ll surely help as well! In the distant past, it used to house prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars apparently.

      I found the changes to Facebook’s privacy settings a while ago somewhat confusing but I think I have them sorted now. I do worry about them because I have pictures of me, my wife and the kids on there. It’s a easy way for my family and friends to keep up to date with the kids growing up.

      Now you’re talking though. Chips. But there is a cultural divide here. Are we talking french fries or what we over the pond would call crisps?

      • Bill Dorman

        Crips? Like Crips and the Bloods?

        I was talking out of the bag potato chips……..:).

        • Tim Bonner

          Whoops, it should say crisps! I’ll go change it! Out of the bag potato chips are also fine.

    • Barrett Rossie

      I’ll second what Bill said. I have to say though, I’ve now talked with two people in the last month that I previously knew only as avatars. So I’m looking forward to moving past the social media thing and just getting social with some of the great folks I’m interacting with.

      At the same time, someone I don’t know just tried to Skype me. It was very creepy, indeed.

      • Tim Bonner

        Hey Barrett

        I agree, getting past the social media thing and interacting socially would be a great idea!

        Did you find out who Skyped you?

      • Bill Dorman

        It was me you knucklehead…..get over it……..

  • Jeevan Jacob John

    Social Media.


    I think it’s the most entertaining and most dangerous tool of all.

    Right, with health. Oh, yes. Those eyes. How about sitting down? I read a recent research on sitting down that more we sit down, the less we live, because of the metabolism rate. When we sit down, our body relaxes and it slows down all the processes – including calorie burning (and you know what that can cause, don’t you?). A suggested solution is to bounce or move your legs while sitting down for longer periods of time (I try to do it all the time :D).

    Ah, yes.

    Now to the dangerous portion (and maybe the creepier side of SM). For my English 102, we are currently exploring the topic of privacy vs freedom (is there any privacy now? SM allows for the governments and businesses to do more tracking than ever. To know things we buy, where we go. All sorts of stuff. Creepy).

    Think about this data going to the wrong hands (think about government being a totalitarian one).

    It’s better not to think about all that.


    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Jeevan

      I couldn’t imagine myself sitting here bouncing around on my chair for any length of time! I think I would rather just get up and go for a walk.

      I know what you mean about being sedentary for any length of time though. I’m getting to that age that if I eat anything it turns to fat in an instant!

      I try not to think about my data getting into the wrong hands but it’s happening more and more these days to people I know. Making like an ostrich is not ideal either though. If you want to use social media you kind of have to give up a little of your data. So I guess it’s a choice of using it or not?

      Privacy vs freedom is an interesting one. Look at what’s happened to the UK royal family just recently! I do kind of feel the press have crossed the line with them. What do you think?

      • Jeevan Jacob John

        That’s also a great way to tackle it (but, what if you are in a situation in which you just can’t walk out – you could, but you would miss something out?).

        Well, there is a factor of choice (but, I like to think that people are being forced to using these – situations, especially from friends and relatives?).

        Oh, I didn’t hear that (I don’t keep up with news these days? I learned it the hard way that it’s better not to listen to the things that’s happening in this world!). What happened?

        • Tim Bonner

          I’m not always in a situation where I can walk out but I generally then go and find something else to do in the house. Looking after the family, there’s always something else for me to do!

          There’s been a couple of incidents recently with the Royal family but the latest one was topless photos taken of Duchess of Cambridge. The photographer was supposedly half a mile away using a zoom lens at the time the photos were being taken. So, there’s certainly a privacy issue there.

          • Jeevan Jacob John

            Now, that’s just creepy! But, hopefully we won’t have incidents like that in the future (the debate still goes in with the development of better technologies such as biometrics).

          • Tim Bonner

            I think that sort of thing will always happen.

            If you’re an A-list celebrity or a member of the Royal Family it goes with the turf I’m sure.

            The Paparazzi sometimes overstep the mark however.

  • Mark

    Every now and again, we encounter trolls and douchebags online; my solution? Kickem’ in the virtual nuts and move on.

    They’re not worth the time of responding to :o

    Cheers Tim!

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Mark

      I like your style! I’ve not encountered any trolls or douchebags online yet but never say never. I’ll remember what to do.

      Good to see you Sir.

  • Chadrack

    Hmm, you cannot but be more right here. i think the darker side of social media is fast becoming a big problem. Here in my country a few weeks ago, a group of young men using Facebook lured a young undergraduate lady from one part of the country to another part, very distance from each other, and succeeded in murdering the young girl.

    It is really pathetic that when others want are finding ways to use these social media sites for good others are turning them into bad spots.

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Chadrack

      Gosh, that’s terrible. I hadn’t heard about that story.

      It just goes to show that you really need to be careful about who you make friends with online.

      It’s such a shame when these things happen. People can be so cruel or in extreme cases, like the one you mentioned, murderous.

      Thank you for sharing this sad story Chadrack.


      • Chadrack

        I must say this is cruelty at its worst! It is a story that has brought up many questions about friendly strangers on social networks. The only good thing about it is that the police has been able to arrest the brutal murderers and they are facing the wrath of the law.

        Really sorry to bring up such a sad story here but I have been touched since the whole thing unfolded.

        • Tim Bonner

          Hey no problem Chadrack.

          I’m glad you mentioned it as it shows how social media really can go horribly wrong.

  • Adrienne

    Hey Tim,

    Wow, I’m so behind the times with cell devices… I just sit at my computer all day doing my work and hardly ever pay attention to anything else. My Mom has to tell me what’s going on in the real world.

    I don’t accept all friend requests though on the social networking sites, especially Facebook. I’m about real connections anyway so a conversation will usually take place before accepting anyone.

    As for privacy settings! I have them in place the way I think they should but I also have nothing to hide. Heck, you couldn’t come visit me if you wanted to without an invitation I live in a gated community.

    I agree with Bill on this one and have learned the hard way through thefts in the past. If someone wants something bad enough, they will find a way. There really isn’t anything you can do about it either. Straight from the policeman’s mouth too! Yikes…

    I do love to chat with people though either via phone, skype or Google hangout. I like to get to know someone to the extent that email just doesn’t cut it. It’s all about making those connections.

    Thanks Tim, great post and I see you have a lot of other people who agree with me.


    • Tim Bonner

      Hey Adrienne

      I know what you mean. If someone wants something so badly they will try anything and everything to get it. I haven’t had anything stolen since I lived in Manchester almost 10 years ago and my bike was taken.

      Living in a gated community must certainly make you feel very secure though, no? It’s great to have your Mom so close too.

      Now we’re living on school grounds it’s like Fort Knox here. There’s three key codes to get through before you even get to unlock the front door!

      I love the way you make connections Adrienne. It’s a great way to go about things and you have certainly mastered it!

      I hope you’ve had a good start to the week.


  • Adam D. Oglesby

    I’m an experienced writer but a new blogger.

    I look at social media almost exclusively from a marketing standpoint. I’m staggered by the virtual limitless potential of the billions of folks linked by their monitors.

    Because of the need for a new blogger to brand himself, social media seems to provide a convenient two way street. I can be helpful to my audience, provide entertainment, information, advice–whatever–and in return maybe a few people will remember my name.

    Having said that, I have virtually no interest in finding a Facebook buddy with whom to idly pass the time.

    It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy this social interchange. The problem is more along the lines of playing a video game. Man, lot of fun. But a voice in the back of my head keeps screaming that this isn’t the most productive use of my time.

    If I were twenty years younger…who knows.

    Maybe I’m secretly envious of this generation that has access to zillions of smoking hot partner prospects all within modem distance.

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Adam

      Thank you for stopping by.

      I’m moving more toward your way of thinking about social media.

      I used to spend much more time on Facebook in particular but more and more I’m using social media as a marketing tool rather than something to have fun with.

      I still like the fact I can keep up with friends and family on Facebook but that side of things doesn’t seem to interest me as much as it did.

      It staggers me too the potential of all of those people connected. It does also make me want to step outside of the whole thing though and be more social with the people I meet.

      The trouble with all those smoking hot partner prospects is that they hide behind their monitors! You can be anyone and anything online.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and I hope to see you again.


  • Praveen Rajarao

    Social media is good for us bloggers to promote our articles and get more readers back home. The only downside i can see is the unwanted spams and network-membership requests that gets into my inbox without me even knowing about them.

    People out there take us for granted just because we have be-friended them, and suggest for groups and discussions which is of absolutely no interest. We will need to take caution before getting active in any of these forums.

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Praveen

      I’ve started to get a lot more spam recently as the traffic has increased to my website.

      There’s also been a few people trying to access my WordPress login and I have blocked their IP addresses.

      I also keep getting emailed from a company that sells Facebook likes and Twitter followers to request a link on my site in exchange for one on theirs.

      Hmmmm, they obviously don’t read my blog as I clearly wrote a post about disliking this practice!

      I’ve not experienced anyone suggesting groups and discussions as yet but I’m sure it will happen in time.

      Thank you for your comments Praveen and I hope your week has gone well.


  • Jim Milstead

    Hey Tim I don’t disagree but there is hope – there are some fantastic developments in social health. The generation growing up today will cure a lot of their health problems with social networks some day!

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Jim

      Thank you for visiting my blog. It’s good to see you.

      I like to think there is always hope! I’m always a bit sceptical about looking for health answers online however.

      You can read into something and before you know it, you think you have a life-threatening disease!

      Certainly for moral support it’s a great idea though.

      Thank you for your comments Jim and I hope to see you again soon.


  • Matt

    One thing that I think Twitter in particular has has done is decrease our attention spans. And they were pretty short already considering the fast pace of life and the influence of advertising, and TV and radio sound bites, etc.

    That’s why I think it’s a good idea to get away from social media occasionally. And if you need the mental stimulation, it’s better to read a book from cover to cover.

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Matt

      Thank you for visiting my blog. It’s great to see you here.

      I struggle to keep up with the Twitter feed. I see so many things scrolling past me at light speed and I don’t really ever read any of them.

      I completely agree that you need to get away from social media occasionally. I spend less time than I ever did on Facebook. It felt like it was taking over my evenings at times.

      Great comments Matt for which I thank you.

      I hope to see you again soon.


  • Jack Milgram

    Really interesting observations concerning the social media and the changes in our social lives. I’ve also noticed that I gradually turn into a kind of a coach potato socializing, commenting and ‘liking’ status updates from my sofa. The comfort we have with all these technologiues will spoil us. The physical activity minimized, the attention span decreased… What next I wonder?)))

    • Tim Bonner

      Thanks Jack

      I spend far too much time on social media but that seems to be the nature of blogging and sharing things. I’ve also become far too dependent on my iPhone for keeping up to speed on everything.

      I must admit though I really slowed down over the holiday period and it’s been a struggle to get back into things.

      I definitely wonder what next too Jack. Social media seems to be taking over many aspects of our lives.

      One of the things I want to do in 2013 is get out and do more physical exercise with less time staring at a computer screen.

  • Diane Clark

    Hi Tim,
    I’m glad you’re raising this important question of social media impact on our health. Like additional dimensions, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others have become integral parts of our lives. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not. Yet, we cannot deny the important role the social media sites play in our lives. The darker side of social media is shocking – bad guys really can use it for bad reasons.

    • Tim Bonner

      Hi Diane

      I think when I first started using Facebook I became a recluse. I was constantly on there, speaking to people, playing games. It’s lost it’s appeal somewhat over the years though.

      I’m trying my best to spend only planned time on social media sites now though as you really can get sucked and end up doing nothing else all day!

      The darker side of social media really is terrible. I just don’t know how we will ever get around this. It’s not something that can be policed I guess.