Does It Matter When We Check Social Media?

Written by: Jessica Baldachin

Do you check your phone’s screen time usage? Are you proud when its down 15% from last week? While we pride ourselves on using our phones less nowadays, we fail to recognize that the time of day in which we use them can influence our mental health. Surprisingly, scrolling Instagram for four hours throughout the day will have different implications on your mental health than if you were to scroll for four hours right before bed. Who knew?

Well… turns out that researchers Heather Woods and Holly Scott knew. Woods and Scott’s article (2016), #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, discusses the correlation between social media use and mental health. Woods and Scott studied the differences between individuals who are emotionally invested in social media (checks social media constantly throughout the day) and those who are nighttime-specific users (checks social media only before bed). Their study concluded that these two behavioural patterns led to different mental health outcomes and therefore should be taken into consideration when trying to promote wellness by adjusting one’s social media usage. Woods and Scott state that biggest difference was that nighttime-specific use was most strongly associated with poor sleep quality and emotionally invested use was strongly associated with anxiety and depression.

Does this mean that you should only check TikTok and Facebook during the evening in order to avoid feeling anxious or down? No. However, if you are looking for ways to improve your sleep patterns or promote wellness in your life, it might be worthwhile to investigate your online patterns and slightly adjust them accordingly. Experiencing poor sleep? Try putting your phone away a few hours before bed or changing the blue light settings on your phone. Feeling more anxious than usual? Take a look at how often you are checking your applications throughout the day and see if that makes a difference.


Woods, H. C., & Scott, H. (2016). #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Journal of Adolescence,51, 41-49. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2016.05.008