Social media creates connection opportunities with people and communities. It can help you stay up-to-date on trends and easily locate information about various topics. But how you utilize it can influence your decisions, ultimately impacting your financial and mental well-being.
Understanding its potentially negative effects on your behaviors can help you watch your spending habits and thought patterns, maximize its benefits and achieve your financial goals.
Social Media’s Impact on Financial and Mental Health
Social media refers to any internet-based platform facilitating virtual networks and online communities where people share ideas, messages, information and other forms of content such as images and videos. Among the most common are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Building connections and staying updated on news or trends are some of social media’s benefits, making it popular across generations. In 2021, approximately 72% of American adults reported having at least one social media account.
However, potential drawbacks exist. Frequent social media use can harm your financial health. It can also amplify financial stress, which may lead to mental health issues.
It Can Harm Financial Health
Social media can be a good source of information. But depending on your habits, it can also negatively affect your financial health.
Fear of missing out (FOMO)
FOMO is the feeling that others have or are experiencing something good you don’t want to miss out on. For instance, seeing your social media feeds full of friends buying the latest gadgets may tempt you to want to have the same. A study conducted by the Charles Schwab Corporation found that three in five Americans tend to pay more attention to how their friends spend versus how they save.
Impulse buying and overspending
Social media can cause individuals to feel a need to be included and keep up with the trends. Advertisements for products you’re interested in can fill your feeds. Seeing your favorite influencers hyping certain products may also convince you to try the items. This could create compulsive buying and overspending habits, resulting in debt.
Bad financial advice
There may be individuals claiming to have expertise in financial matters. If you’re not careful, you may follow the advice of self-proclaimed experts who only encourage you to finance your fantasy. According to the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America’s Digital Engagement Survey, 32% of Americans say they consider the advice of social media influencers and celebrities trustworthy.
Trying to replicate the lifestyles of people around you may affect how you manage your money. Since no one's financial situation is the same, you may be prone to choices that aren't appropriate for your means by following others. These decisions can lead to unmanageable debt.
It Can Amplify Financial Stress
Aside from your financial health, your physical and mental well-being may also suffer. For some, this becomes an endless cycle that’s hard to get out of. Poor financial health influences mental well-being and mental health issues affect the way you spend.
In a 2021 MoneyGeek survey, 89% of respondents said their finances were a source of stress. Financial stress can turn into chronic stress, changing a person’s behavior.
Anxiety and panic
Constantly worrying about finances can trigger anxiety. You may feel panic attacks, shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, the cumulative financial strain also increases suicide risk.
Accumulated health care costs
Financial stress can lead to unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking too much alcohol, overeating or abusing prescription and illegal drugs. These could affect your overall health and mental well-being, such as a weakened immune system, frequent colds, and needing therapy services or professional intervention. All of these may leave you with large healthcare expenses.
Social Media’s Influence on Spending Habits
The frequent use of social media may change your financial behavior. It may influence how you manage your money, make purchasing decisions and choose an investment strategy. Similar to traditional media, such as television, magazines, newspapers and billboards, businesses use social media as a platform to advertise products and services. However, unlike other platforms, social media allows immediate communication and faster transactions.
Data mining and targeted ads
Social media platforms have terms and conditions you must consent to when signing up. These may allow a platform to save and monitor your data. An algorithm using the data predicts personalized products and services.
Seamless shopping experience
Purchasing from a social media application is quick and easy. You can buy a product without leaving the platform. This also makes it faster and easier for users to spend money.
Many businesses have turned to influencer marketing to promote their products or services through videos and posts. Social media influencers are individuals who usually have a considerable following in a specific niche. Marketing agencies and brands estimate the influencer marketing industry will grow to about $21.1 billion in 2023.
Social proof advertising
Using this type of advertising, people make purchasing decisions based on the behavior of others. For example, seeing a lot of good comments or reviews about a particular product may make you decide that the company is trustworthy and that the product is good.
Trending on social media
Trending topics and products may trigger FOMO. The social pressure to fit in and feelings of envy or insecurity may compel you to spend money without weighing the benefits and drawbacks.
Reduce the Negative Effects of Social Media
It’s possible to protect your financial and mental well-being and prevent potential negative impacts of social media. Changing how you use social media can minimize possible drawbacks. Here are some tips you may want to consider for healthy social media use:
Carefully screen and choose influencers
Curating your social media feeds is essential. Review the accounts, brands and influencers you follow. Unsubscribe or unfollow those that promote expensive lifestyles or offer poor financial advice.
Set a limit on your daily social media use
Don’t let social media consume your time and intervene with in-person communications. Set some rules for yourself. For instance, don’t check your social media accounts during meals, work hours and family time. It may also help to turn off notifications.
Do a social media detox
If you’re already overwhelmed, taking a break from social media may be best. Some applications, such as Facebook, can deactivate your account for a short period.
Improve your money mindset
Focus on your finances. Set goals and hold yourself accountable. For instance, take a few hours off of the Internet and sit down to make a budget. Research ways to grow your money. Watch videos or read articles from reliable sources.
Overcome Financial FOMO and Achieve Financial Goals
People of all ages may experience FOMO. But trying to keep up with everything others do and buy can prevent you from making wise decisions. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome financial FOMO and stay on track despite exposure to risky trends. Below are some of them:
Set realistic financial goals
First, you need to review your current financial situation and outline your goals. This may also prevent you from using your money on unexpected and unplanned purchases.
Stick to a Budget
One way of overcoming FOMO is by being disciplined. Create a budget to control your spending. Prioritize necessities.
Save for larger purchases and emergencies
Set aside a percentage of your income and build your savings. You can do this to prepare for a significant expense. It’s also important to have an emergency fund, which will serve as your financial safety net for unexpected expenses.
Choose the right investment strategy
The right investments will help you grow your finances. Before jumping in, review your options well. Don’t fall into herding — where the investments and decisions of others influence you. When in doubt, seek professional advice.
Leverage Social Media Benefits for Financial Growth
Once you learn how to use social media responsibly and understand the potential drawbacks you may encounter, you can better manage the way you use it. You’ll be able to maximize your time on social platforms and yield financial gains.
Social media can be a good vehicle for financial management, improving financial wellness and reducing financial stress.
Access Offers and Discounts
An excellent way to save money is to find the best deals. If you need to make an online purchase, look for coupons, discount codes and special offers. You can also try contacting a brand directly on their social media account. Some companies respond to customers and even make special offers.
Find Job Opportunities
Social media can be an excellent tool for landing your next job. You can use social media platforms to showcase your skills, accomplishments and experience. You can also establish your credibility and expertise. Post content relevant to your field. Grow your professional network by connecting with industry leaders.
Earn Income from Social Media-Related Jobs
You can also earn money through social media. Look for social media-related positions, such as social media managers and online customer service representatives.
Another earning option is selling products. Many companies also offer affiliate programs, allowing individuals to earn a passive income by promoting products and services.
Make Community and Networking Connections
Social media provides opportunities to engage with communities, organizations and individuals who share the same interests. You can grow your industry network or begin meeting others in industries you’re interested in.
You can also find online groups that can provide support. For example, there are financial independence groups that allow people to discuss and share ways to earn, save and invest.
Expert Insight on Social Media and Financial Health
Balancing social media and your financial health can be challenging, especially with frequent exposure to potential triggers. MoneyGeek spoke with a few financial experts to provide insights that may help you better manage your pocketbook and how you use social media.
- What resources or tools can you recommend to help people use social media to yield financial gains?
- How can an individual best deal with financial stress amplified by social media?
- What’s the best tip or strategy a person can use to balance the use of social media and maintain financial wellness?
- What resources and tools do you recommend to people struggling to overcome bad spending habits?
Associate Professor and Director of the Sustainable Economic and Enterprise Development (SEED) Institute
Independent Financial Advisor
Financial Planner at Narwhal Capital Management
There are a lot of resources available to help individuals who are having trouble balancing social media use and financial health. Here are some of them.
Social Media Use
- Federal Trade Commission: Find out about the different social media scams, how to protect yourself and how to report suspected scams.
- MindHandHeart: Use these nine tips for healthy and positive social media use. MindHandHeart is a coalition of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s students, faculty and staff.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): Find out how to use social media to protect your mental health through different NIH guides and resources for mental health.
- Youth Engaged 4 Change: Learn about the benefits of social media and get tips on how to use it responsibly.
- Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS): Get in touch with a financial coach who can help you manage your finances and debt for free. Access budgeting tools and other financial education resources.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): This government agency provides access to different resources and tools that can help you make well-informed financial decisions and improve your financial literacy.
- Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA): Get help with financial education, budgeting and financial counseling from an FCAA member agency. The association also features various consumer education resources.
Therapy and Recovery
- Addiction Center: Learn about social media addiction and explore professional therapy options. Get matched with a therapist online or by calling (888) 573-9917.
- Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT): Find a local cognitive behavioral therapist to help you address compulsive buying behavior. ABCT also has a list of self-help book recommendations for various concerns, including social media use.
- Financial Therapy Association: Locate a financial therapy practitioner to help you manage financial stress. A financial therapist can also help you change how you think and feel about money.
- FindTreatment.gov: Use the SAMHSA’s online search tool to find mental health services and facilities in your location.
- Spenders Anonymous: This community offers a safe space for people who struggle with compulsive buying and spending addiction. It offers meetings, phone calls and emails for support.
About Nathan Paulus
- American Journal of Epidemiology. "Financial Strain and Suicide Attempts in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Adults." Accessed February 22, 2023.
- Charles Schwab Corporation. "2019 Modern Wealth Survey." Accessed February 20, 2023.
- Influencer Marketing Hub. "The State of Influencer Marketing 2023: Benchmark Report." Accessed February 21, 2023.
- Pew Research Center. "Social Media Fact Sheet." Accessed February 20, 2023.
- Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America. "2021 TIAA Digital Engagement Survey." Accessed February 20, 2023.