How Social Media Messes with Your Confidence

July 24, 2015 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Social media messes with your confidence, but you don't have to let it bring you down. Here are 6 tips to help you stay confident in spite of social media.

Your time on social media messes with your confidence whether you're aware of it or not. You may think surfing Facebook, scrolling through Instagram or chatting with friends online is harmless, but recent research, and my own personal experience, says social media messes with your confidence and can damage your self-esteem. On a typical day, you may pull up Facebook or Instagram just to pass the time. If you are finding that you're walking and reading, searching and eating, or going to the bathroom with your device in your hand, you need to listen up. You are on the verge of social media taking over your life.

Searching on Tumblr, Pinterest, and even chatting on online platforms activates the subconscious to compare. Comparisons are natural, we all do it, but when you are comparing all day, it messes with your confidence.

Have you ever thought: "Wow she's got the perfect body." "He must be making a ton at his new job." "Everyone seems to have the best weekends, why don't I?" These thoughts don't just disappear once you log off, they stick with you and make you insecure.

Research Shows Social Media Messes With Your Confidence

TSocial media messes with your confidence, but you don't have to let it bring you down. Here are 6 tips to help you stay confident in spite of social media.he American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a study on a phenomenon they call Facebook Depression, where people show clinical signs of depression after using social media. You may not think that passively looking at your news feed or pictures of others may not impact your self-esteem, but it does. Facebook for one can certainly decrease self-esteem. You may not be aware of it in the moment, but you click through the photos of other people constantly and it's only natural to make assumptions.

The more assumptions and judgments you make, the more it bleeds into your self-confidence. "She has a nicer car," "His kids are so cute," "That vacation looks fabulous, I'll never have one like that," and so on. People don't post the bad; they fill their social media lives with the best.

Another study by the Center for Eating Disorders (CED) sound that among users aged 16-40, many were more self-conscious of their body after being online. A whopping 51 percent felt more conscious of their body and weight after spending time on Facebook and over a third wanted to change specific body parts. That's a lot of unhappy people.

If you felt envious last time you spotted a friend’s "Sunday Funday" on Facebook or Instagram, you’re not alone. German researchers call this phenomenon the “self promotion-envy spiral,” and it happens when Facebook users compare themselves to the people they’re connected to on the platform. These comparisons lead to feeling insecure and not good enough in your own life, messing with your confidence big time.

Researchers from Humboldt University and Darmstadt Technical University have recently published a study (PDF) on Facebook’s role in our own unhappiness. Their findings are staggering: Over a third of people reported being unhappy following their most recent experience on Facebook. When later asked why users might feel frustrated or exhausted after using Facebook, almost a third of people responded "envy."

It's not just Facebook that impacts your self-esteem and confidence. Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, you name it -- these too mess with your confidence. If you are noticing that you need, versus want, to get on social media, that's a big problem. Technology is controlling you not, the other way around.

The falsification of filters, posting only the perfect and "happiest" pictures makes you (and me) feel like we are missing out on something. The truth is, we are missing out on real life. By being glued to our phone or computer, we are only hurting our confidence. Get off once in a while and explore the real world around you. But it's not that easy, I know.

Don't Let Social Media Mess with Your Confidence: 6 Tips

  1. Put your phone away when you are walking or eating. Try to enjoy the moment and notice how weird it is when you don't have your device in your hands. If you feel anxiety over this, remember you are trying to wean off your need for social media.
  2. Silence is an option. Put your phone on silent and check it when you want, rather than when it wants you to. That means that you are in charge of responding to texts, emails and social media alerts.
  3. You can choose your friends. Block or hide people who post too much or illicit a feeling of envy,or insecurity in you. You don't need to see their "perfect" pictures all day. Instead, fill your feed with inspiring and helpful people.
  4. Pause before you post. In my new book I talk about why this is important, in fact there is an entire chapter dedicated to it. The content that you put out to the world says a lot about you. Venting about your experience at the post office or posting a hundred pictures of your recent vacation, can make others wonder what your intention is for posting? If your venting, why tell the whole world? If you need to show off your good time on vacation, why do we need to see every single picture? The more you overshare the less people care, and the more the assume you need validation from them to feel confident.
  5. Fight fear of missing out (FOMO). If you notice that you are comparing yourself or judging someone else, log off. A temporary break will reinforce your brain that comparisons aren't helping you. Also, when you log off, you can make real plans with a friend, go do something by yourself, and focus on yourself rather than letting your confidence depend on what others are doing.
  6. Don't check social media before bed. It messes with your head. Research shows that it can keep you from sleeping well, and if you are having a case of FOMO before you doze of, it's likely you won't wake up feeling good about yourself either.

Much of social media has become a way for us to escape and engage with our insecurities. Instead of filling your time in a confidence sucking trap, try to use it sparingly and be mindful of how much social media is controlling you.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2015, July 24). How Social Media Messes with Your Confidence, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

April, 1 2017 at 6:00 pm

Well I developed a bad addiction to my phone and to social media to the point I can't put my phone done for 5 seconds I know you gave tips I tried to take a break from it but it was too hard to do .

September, 29 2016 at 7:43 am

Absolutely on point...i had leave all kind of social media since last one month and seeing a lot of changes now from both physical and mental point of view. Yess we humans judges people,compare ourselves bt not every minute every second, with social media addictive these things stuck in our mind like every damn second. So thanks for spreading this good thought to people..keep it up and good luck

June, 5 2016 at 4:14 am

Is it a shame not understand or not to have confidence on using social network

karina Vega
May, 3 2016 at 11:31 pm

You know the past month I have been feeling really out of it, I noticed that everything I see instead of feeling proud and happy for that person, whom I follow and they post daily , I seemed too be more down. Like why haven't I achieved anything. what have I been doing these past five years since a graduated high school. So I decided to cancel social media for my own good and focus on myself and improving myself overall. I can come back once I know I have achieved what I been procrastinating.

March, 19 2016 at 8:32 pm

Kathy, I agree with you. I was on facebook for about a year until I got tired of everyone's fakeness. Most people on my page were friends from junior HS and HS but because they had moved away either out of state or gone away to college, they had become mere acquaintances. I no longer felt any chemistry between us, and a lot of them were just there...on my page. It got too boring for me. I value personal interaction and personal growth. You can't get this from interacting with people online, it's not the same as meeting someone face to face or speaking to them on the phone. After all, verbal communication is not the only means of communication and you can't exactly get this via online connecting. You miss out on so much that is worth experiencing. For this reason, I said good-bye to my facebook account. The few friends I have, they care enough to call me up or text me to see how i'm doing. When they have time, we get together for parties, coffee breaks, and breakfast dates.
I am an introvert and while people like your brother and my sister may find great amusement in social media by using it to their advantage, I can't. I just can't flip into 'fun.' I suppose you need to have certain personality traits to do that, and I don't. I am not into selfie posting, I find it repulsive because it facilitates narcissism. What is this need to be declared beautiful and to be liked? This only draws more comparisons, and constant comparisons can really mess with self-esteem. Also, I value my privacy immensely. I do not want to show anyone my photos, who my family is, where I live, or where i'm having coffee. Whoever thinks this is ok should get their head checked. No good can come out of this.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 1 2019 at 1:09 pm

Wow,I'm sitting here March 1st 2019 ,in wet Ireland,your post is do eloquent it touched me,thank you!

December, 25 2015 at 3:36 am

I stopped Facebook after a year of trying to get real dialogue through posts and comments. To no avail. It is a waste of time for me. I get bored and can see through with what I call 'Post and Boast' posts. This is my term and spread of around if you like it. Others find value in it. It depends on how you socialize really. My brother just has fun on it and has no expectations...he is more of an extrovert than I am. He has even searched others with his name and friended them. Me, not my style, but; I could see he has a blast doing it. You mention Pinterest as a forum where one can compare too much and one up others who have perfect houses or bodies, read blogs by women who appear to live the perfect life in every way, etc. ' I can see how could happen. I pin what I am interested in, I do it for inspiration and motivation. I live with depression and in good periods find Pinterest is motivating for me. Followers and those a pinner follows are not 'friends'...There is no expectation to communicate or associate with other pinners, though you have that option under comments. It is not meeting Joe Blow at a party and then friending him but you don't really know him from Adam, and 'a la Alanmis Morrisette' find out he is a racist. It is to me finding and sharing interests, ideas. ..yes, even cute kitties!

December, 9 2015 at 3:24 pm

I have always said that the smart phone is a new vital organ to humans. Don't believe? Then pry phone from hand. Next comes shock. Then tantrums. Then convulsions. Then passing out. After all that, then call emergency. Once at hospital, doctor replaces phone in hand. Patient then recovers. Proof that smart phones are a vital organ.

December, 9 2015 at 11:28 am

I don't have a facebook. Tried it once and it became very boring to me. It was life to others. There is some good in facebook in that it is easier to connect with many, whereas who can make that many phone calls. It has shifted communication in a different way. went to meeting and we car pooled. I was driver. 90% of time the other 3 were texting the full 2 hour drive. I think we all had about 6 sentences combined as conversation between the 4 of us in 2 hours.

December, 8 2015 at 6:48 am

Interesting post, I ca agree with you on that. Although social media help connect people, it actually creates distance. We are becoming more and more lazy. "Why visit a friend for a cup of tea, where you can send a message on Facebook." It is sad, really.

Martina McKeough
October, 19 2015 at 6:25 am

Social media certainly can have a big impact on the way we feel. It makes us compare ourselves to others and when we feel we don't match up to those images it knocks confidence. Practicing self acceptance and understanding that many of those images are unrealistic can help to negate the impact.

August, 6 2015 at 5:03 am

The old saying excessive use is harmful the same fundamental we can apply for social media use. People now a days don’t interact with each other instead virtually connect with each other that definitely effect there confidence.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 6 2015 at 11:54 am

I agree with you. Words online are just as strong as words out loud. Connection is vital, human to human connection. I encourage people to interact more with people fact to face. Thanks for your comment!

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