A close-up photo of someone's hands holding a cell phone. The hands are wearing blue gloves. Various social media app icons can be seen on the phone screen.

X Marks the Rot: Social Media’s Depressive Effects

You can call it X or you can call it Twitter, but here's one thing you certainly can't call it: good for anyone's mental or emotional well-being.


We know that doomscrolling is bad for our mental health, but according to a new study, one social media platform is particularly problematic. The study found that spending time on X (formerly known as Twitter) can have a negative impact on your emotions — and in fact, the platform seems to have no positive effects.

The study was led by researchers from the University of Toronto and published in Nature Communications Psychology.

The average Canadian spends more than two hours every day on social media, and there are over 14 million X users in Canada. But considering the proliferation of bad news on platforms like X, how is all this social media use affecting us? To learn more, the researchers behind these new results tracked the emotions of 252 American X users from a diverse range of backgrounds.

In their study, the team asked X users questions about why they were opening the platform, and how they felt as a result of using the platform. They found that users who were opening X as a way to escape their real-life problems reported lower levels of well-being after using the app. Similarly, those who turned to X out of boredom ended up feeling more bored after scrolling through X.

Overall, the action most associated with a lowered sense of well-being was simply scrolling through the X feed. Upon finishing their time on X, most users reported feeling angrier than when they started. They also felt angry when they tried to use X to search for information.

“We couldn’t find any positive effects on well-being,” said Victória Oldemburgo de Mello, a PhD student at the University of Toronto Scarborough and one of the authors on the study, in a news release.

“Even when some of the things people did make them feel like they belonged more, that didn’t translate into increased positive emotions.”

Although many of us use X to stay up-to-date on current events, other recent studies have demonstrated that scrolling through endless feeds of bad news on social media is also bad news for our mental health. What’s more, doomscrolling is especially problematic when it comes to the emotional well-being of adolescents. Together, these studies suggest that we might be better off avoiding social media if we can help it, and staying away from X in particular.

The authors note that their study was undertaken before Elon Musk purchased Twitter and rebranded it as X. It remains to be seen how these updates to the app will impacts users’ mental health — especially considering the fact that most users aren’t happy with the changes.

In the meantime, it might be better to cross X off your social media radar for the sake of your mental health.

‹ Previous post
Next post ›

Emily Deibert is a PhD student in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto with a passion for science outreach and communication. She earned her HBSc (Astronomy, English, and Mathematics) at the University of Toronto. She is excited about turning scientific research into stories and sharing these stories with the public.