World Mental Health Day 2019: Selena Gomez, Millie Bobby Brown and more speak on the dangers of social media

Many celebrities have spoken out about the damaging effects of social media.

October 10, 2019, 4:23 AM

Celebrities rack up millions of followers and comments on their social platforms every day.

These stars garner both positive and negative reactions to their every move online, whether they're posting a deeply personal statement or a more trivial, humorous message.

Many Hollywood actors and actresses, musicians and entertainers have spoken out against regular use of social media and slammed different platforms based on negative experiences they've had.

To mark World Mental Health Day on Thursday, "GMA" looked into what some of the most famous people on the platforms have said about the dangers associated with social media.

Selena Gomez: 'I don't think people are getting the right information sometimes'

The singer and actress, who has over 157 million Instagram followers, spoke about the harmful nature of social media during a panel at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

"Social media has really been terrible for my generation," she said. "I understand that it’s amazing to use your platform, but it does scare me when you see how exposed that these young girls and young boys are -- and they're not really aware of the news or anything going on."

"I think it's dangerous for sure," she added. "I don't think people are getting the right information sometimes."

Parenting and youth development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa says Gomez isn't wrong.

"One of the ways that celebrities can help us the most is that, like most middle schoolers and high schoolers, they’ve seen the darkest side of social media," she said. "Celebrities in this realm get bullied just like marginalized kids do. They are absolutely spot on when they talk about how damaging that can be and how helpless and overwhelmed a person in that situation feels."

"We know that over 90% of teens on social media say that they have experienced cyberbullying, as a victim, as a perpetrator, as someone who watches it go by and doesn’t know how to stand up and say, 'Hey that’s not OK,’" she added.

Despite Gomez's concerns with the effects of the sites and apps, she also expressed how she can use them for good while speaking at Cannes.

"I'm very grateful I have the platform in any way; I can still share things I'm passionate about," she shared. "I don't do a lot of pointless pictures. I like to be intentional with it."

"I see these young girls, I'll meet them and they're just devastated dealing with bullying and not being able to have their own voice," she added. "I would just be careful and allow yourself some time limits when you should use it and when not."

Gomez often takes breaks from her Instagram account and has advised her massive fan base to do the same.

Millie Bobby Brown: 'I want to make it a happy place'

The "Stranger Things" actress, 15, discussed her interest in combating social media hate with Glamour UK in May.

"Young people’s lives are increasingly under pressure," she told the outlet. "First of all, I want to make sure that children are protected from violence and exploitation. I also want to combat the negativity on social media -- I have experienced it -- it’s like a disease. It’s negative hate that is genuinely so horrifying to me."

She also shared that she has been a victim of bullying and negativity both in her personal life and on media platforms. She even switched schools in England due to harassment from her peers.

However, like Gomez, she is willing to acknowledge there are some upsides to online platforms.

"Social media is one of the best places in the world and one of the worst -- it counteracts itself," she told the outlet. "It sends such amazing messages; it raises awareness of situations that need to be heard. Nobody should say it isn’t a platform for positivity and change. But then there are some really heartbreaking things to happen on social media and I have dealt with a lot of bullying online."

"I want to make it a happy place," she added.

Gilboa also acknowledged that social media can be used for good, as many users turn to different support lines and channels that function through the apps, while dealing with mental health issues.

Prince Harry called social media 'more addictive than alcohol and drugs'

Although Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan launched their joint Instagram account @sussexroyal earlier this year, he has spoken about the negative impact of social platforms before.

He called social media "more addictive than alcohol and drugs," at an event sponsored by Heads Together, the mental health initiative he leads with his family, in April 2019.

In the second post on @sussexroyal, a quote from Harry on the importance of speaking out about mental heath was included in the caption.

"There continues to be huge progress in smashing the stigma that surrounds mental health, but let’s keep normalising the conversation," the quote read. "Let’s keep reminding each other that it’s okay to not be okay, and to listen to each other. After all, how we think determines how we act, how we feel, and how we treat ourselves and those around us."

Sophie Turner revealed 'social media scrutiny' on 'Game of Thrones' affected her

In an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw in April, the actress revealed she battled depression -- and hate she received online was a contributing factor.

"It only kind of started to go downhill I think when I started to hit puberty, and really puberty though at like 17, and my metabolism was like slowing down massively and I was gaining weight," she said on the podcast. "Then there was the social media scrutiny and everything and that was when it kind of hit me."

"Learning to love yourself is the biggest challenge I think," she continued.

Gilboa said online scrutiny and comparisons on the platforms leads to increased anxiety and other detrimental effects.

"The anxiety that’s provoked by looking at a really two-dimensional view of your peers and having it all look better than your three-dimensional reality," the expert said on a negative impact of social media. "It looks like you’re getting the whole story -- it's not the whole story of course -- and it looks beautiful and filtered and curated, when your whole story looks like none of those things."

"That comparison is the first major problem because it leads to understandable feelings of anxiety, overwhelmed, frustration, sadness -- that your reality doesn’t look like what you think is someone else’s reality," she added.

A 2019 study from the American Psychological Association found that social media could be one of the factors attributed to the increase in mental health issues among adolescents and adults ages 18 to 25.

"Individuals who spend more time on social media and less time with others face-to-face report lower well-being and are more likely to be depressed," the study reads. "Likewise, both general Internet use and involvement in cyber-bullying (as victim or perpetrator) have been associated with depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors."

Kanye West suggested disabling the likes and comments features on social media

The rapper spoke out about the damaging effects of internet approval on Twitter last year.

"There are people who are committing suicide due to not getting enough likes," he tweeted in September 2018. "Seeking validation in the simulation."

He also shared that he would like a follow and like-free approach on his own timeline, which prompted an interesting discussion on how much people truly value them.

Tips to using social media in a safe and healthy manner

One of the most important things to remember when using social platforms is to "keep track of your content, what you’re taking in, and also your quantity," according to Gilboa.

"Make sure that you’re focusing on content that’s healthy," she advised. "Even as a young adult ... try to assess your current use, and see if the amount you’re using is in line with your priorities and the way you want to be able to describe your life."

"Find every way you can to connect the online life you want to be having to your life, using it to support the relationships that you have in real life, to feed those relationships," she added.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 24, 2019.