Social media can help connect friends and family, build awareness, spread news, and build new friendships. It can also increase anxiety, isolation, and sleep issues and put people at risk of online bullying or harassment.  

If you were forcibly displaced from your home country due to conflict and crisis, the effects of social media can be even larger. Managing how you and your family use social media will help you get the positive benefits of social media while protecting you from the negative ones.  


Benefits of Social Media 

Social media refers to online ways people connect, such as Facebook (Meta), Instagram, WhatsApp, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok. When you must leave your country and live far away from loved ones, social media can help you communicate with friends and family. It can also help you stay connected to culture, community, or celebrations, and keep traditions alive. This can ease feelings of loneliness and separation after moving to a new country. 


Social media can also offer timely news and information. This news can be from the country or place you left or in your new community in the United States. This increases your sense of knowledge and control, which helps you make decisions.  


You have control over the type of content you see on social media. You can use your social media platforms to increase the content you see related to self-care, mental health, and well-being. You can also choose to see other supportive content, such as positive news, or comforting information and images.  


Negative Effects of Social Media 

While social media has many positive benefits, there are also many negative ones. Here are just a few: 


  • Anxiety and Traumatic Stress – It is common to want to stay connected to news from your home country. However, this news can include violent and disturbing images. When you have been through crisis and conflict, seeing these images can re-trigger traumatic stress. Even if you have not experienced violence, seeing too many of these images can have negative impacts on your mental health and emotional well-being.  
  • Fraud – This can include someone stealing your identity, gaining access to your financial information, false job offers, blackmail, sweepstakes, and lottery scams. Individuals will sometimes specifically target people that they know are new to the U.S. or who don’t speak English. 
  • Sexual Abuse and Exploitation – Social media can be one way individuals gain access to young and/or vulnerable people and lure them into sexually abusive situations. Teenagers are particularly at risk. Examples include but are not limited to sending unrequested nude or sexual images; pressuring victims to send sexual images, emails, chats, or texts; threatening to distribute or distributing intimate images, emails, chats, or texts; and luring victims into sex trafficking or sexual abuse situations. 
  • Cyberbullying and Online Harassment – Online harassment, bullying, intimidation, and hate speech are common on social media and can affect your sense of safety and self-esteem. In some cases, cyberbullying and online harassment have contributed to someone attempting or dying by suicide. 
  • Misinformation – People can use social media to spread false information and rumors that can hurt others’ trust in institutions or government or cause them to make decisions that are not in their best interest. 


Managing your and your family’s social media use helps protect you from harm while allowing you to stay connected and control your private information. To learn more about ways to protect your mental wellness on social media, read this Help Center article: