Background: Social media can cause detrimental effects to college students’ mental wellbeing. The purpose of this study was to examine UT Tyler students’ social media usage and its effects on mental health such as depression, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, and the fear of missing out (FoMO). The researcher wanted to see if one specific social media site, Instagram, had more deleterious effects compared to other social media platforms and if reducing time usage would help improve mental health.

Methods: A mixed-methods, intervention design was used. An online quantitative survey link, which contained questions about demographics, social media usage, and mental health cognitions, was emailed to all UT Tyler students enrolled in the Fall 2021 semester. Statistical tests were run to find relevant associations. The intervention consisted of a social media detoxification phase, a post-intervention questionnaire, and journal responses. Thematic analysis was conducted on the qualitative journal responses. The initial survey had 462 responses (4.2% response rate).

Results: In the quantitative results, stress showed frequent significant results. Participants who continued using social media had higher stress. Participants who limited Instagram use had the lowest stress. Depression and anxiety were also found to have some significance. FoMO was notable in the literature. Age played an important role in which as one gets older, he or she experienced less FoMO, depression, anxiety, stress, and social norms with increasing self-efficacy in relation to social media. In the qualitative results, the main themes from the journal responses were curiosity, awareness of social media use, and desire to spend less time on social media.

Conclusion: Participants were given a chance to engage in a social media detoxification intervention to see how social media affected them cognitively. While stress was the most important result, along with depression, anxiety, and FoMO to a lesser extent, there seemed to be associations between increased social media usage and poor mental health cognitions. Future research can delve into social media related to guilt, sleep, worldview, or the epidemic of misinformation.

Date of publication

Spring 5-2-2022

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

William Sorensen, Cheryl Cooper, Lauren Kirby, Sarah Sass


Master of Science in Health Sciences