Social Media Use and Anxiety

We are undeniably connected with social networking such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and those alike, but mental health professionals are expressing concern when it comes to social media and the effects it can have on anxiety.

Social media use is on the rise and has been for some time. According to Perrin (2015) (as cited in Vannucci, Flannery, & McCauley Ohannessian, 2017), 90% of young adults use social media with most of them reporting the usage of 2 or more sites and visiting daily. In 2013, an estimated 3 million Canadians aged 18 or older reported having a mood or anxiety disorder (Government of Canada, 2013). With the burden of anxiety peaking and emerging in early adulthood (Vannucci, Flannery, & McCauley Ohannessian, 2017), it is no wonder why there may be some correlation.

Anxiety Towards Use of Social Media

The use of social media has been linked to anxiety in research done by Kathy Charles at Edinburgh Napier University. Her study concluded that 12% of users felt anxiety when using Facebook, 30% stated they felt guilty when ignoring a friend request, and there were negative attitudes towards updating statuses, and the rules of social media (Williams, 2014). So why are we so anxious when opening up our social media sites? 3 factors are described below

3 Factors that Influence Anxiety


As human beings, we are naturally apt to compare ourselves to others. Kind of a “Keeping up with the Joneses’” type thing. Social Media allows us to portray the parts of our lives that we want others’ to see. We are able to show the best part of ourselves, and airbrush out the rest. Social media sites allow for pointing out users insecurities and promote feelings of loneliness, competition, and envy (Lang, 2015). Your co-workers Mexico vacation may look better than your Friday night ice cream escapade, or the constant update on your cousin’s relationship may have you asking questions of why that isn’t you. Whatever the insecurity, comparing can lead to low feelings of self-worth and fear of personal failure (, 2016). It has also been said that the longer we have been using social media, the more we believe people are happier than us and the less we agree that life is fair (Chou &, Edge, 2012).

Unable to Disconnect and Relax

What happens when you lose your phone? What about leaving it at home? For some, this is the ultimate anxiety situation; How will I be connected? How will I know what’s going on? What will I do on my train ride home? Studies have shown that obsessive compulsive behaviors such as checking the phone are common. Research done by Nokia found that the average person checks their phone 150 times a day! (Ahonen, 2011, as cited in Rosen, Whaling, Carrier, & Cheever, 2013) That is every six and a half minutes during waking hours. There is panic when we are not connected, leading us to our final factor: Fear of missing out.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

The fear of missing out can be defined as “uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you” (JWT Marketing Communications, 2012, as cited in Abel, Buff, & Burr, 2016). Essentially, it is a fear that we are not included or in the know. With the rise of social media use, the FOMO phenomenon has increased and individuals are feeling more irritability, inadequacy, and anxiety (Abel, Buff, & Burr, 2016). Low feelings of self-worth can rear their ugly head, we can begin to have negative views of ourselves, and we can begin to doubt our happiness.

How Can We Limit Anxiety?

Fortunately, there are many tips and tricks said to help cope and manage the anxiety of social media use. Unfortunately, it could be a whole other blog. Take a look at some of the sites below!

Further Readings

References (2016). Is your online addiction making you anxious? Retrieved from

Abel, J.P., Buff, C.L., & Burr, S.A. (2016). Social media and the fear of missing out: Scale development and assessment. Journal of Business and Economics Research, 14 (1), 33-44.

Chou, H.T.G., & Edge, N. (2012). “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: The impact of using facebook on perceptions of others’ lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 15 (2), 117-121. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0324.

Government of Canada (2013). Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Canada. Retrieved from

Lang, N. (2015). Facebook is annihilating your self-esteem, and you’re not alone. Retrieved from

Rosen, L.D., Whaling, K., Rab, S., Carrier, L.M., Cheever, N.A. (2013). Is Facebook creating iDisorders? The link between clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders and technology use, attitudes and anxiety. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1243-1254. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.11.012

Vannucci, A., Flannery, K.M., McCauley Ohannessian, C. (2017). Social media use and anxiety in emerging adults. Journal of Affective Disorders, 207, 163-166. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.08.040

Williams, R. (2014). How Facebook can amplify low self-esteem/Narcissism/ Anxiety. Retrieved from




The Wikispaces Classroom

The all in one collaboration tool. Works like an LMS, but incorporates co-writing, and co-editing to foster a collaborative learning environment. 

By Alysha Doria


Wikispaces classroom allows you to create a safe and private space to connect, communicate and collaborate with your students. The Wikispaces Classroom uses a Wiki allowing students to co-write and contribute to course content. The Wikispace creates a student-centered environment where students are accountable for their own learning process and engaged in active learning. The Wikispace is particularly useful when integrating problem-based learning into the curriculum.

Getting Started

Signing up for Wikispaces is EASY! And using it in the classroom is even easier. Wikispaces provides a set of educational resources to help teachers use the specific tools tailored to education. Wikispaces also has a YouTube Channel which provides overviews and tutorials on how to use the Wikispaces classroom.

Teaching Ideas

Idea 1- Write Collaboratively 

Who doesn’t want to write a story together? Students can Co-write, Co-edit and fact-check each other’s work when writing a wiki page collectively. Collaborative writing allows the students to construct their own knowledge and can even improve writing skills! Collaborative writing is especially useful in problem-based learning environments

Idea 2– Share and Store Resources 

The days of “Where did I see that document?” are gone! The Wikispace classroom allows you to share files, documents, articles, news stories (and pretty much anything else you can think of) with your students. The best part? They can share them with you too.

Idea 3- Discussion, Discussion, Discussion 

I know what you’re thinking: “Asynchronous discussion? How boring” but on the contrary. Students are able to use discussions similar to a social news feed. Posts can be answering a question you have posted or asking questions to you and their peers. Either way, it is a simple way for them to communicate as a classroom, just don’t forget to participate with them.

Helpful Resources

Cost and Alternatives

You can sign up for Wikispaces Classroom for free. Wikispaces also has a campus version which starts at $1,000.00/year for up to 100 users. This is for schools that wish to have an institution wide wiki. If you are looking to increase your user count you can have unlimited users for the cost of $2,000.00/year but only for K-12 environments. If you are a higher education institution, the cost for unlimited users increases to $6,000.00/year!

Alternatively, if the Wikispace Classroom is not for you, you can try using PB Works. They have a free basic account for educators which allows for 1 Wiki workspace, 2 GB of storage and free customer support. They also have a paid version which has more features such as 40 GB of storage, 100 user limit, Custom security and custom personalization settings for $99/year (this is still only one wiki) or if you would like 1000 user and unlimited wikis, you can opt for the $799/ year option.

Lastly, there is Google Sites. This google application works with all other Google applications as part of your google drive. You can turn on and off sites for viewing and collaborating and manage the way the site is shared. Google sites is free with your Gmail account.

Diffusion of Innovation: How to Help Laggards Become Innovators

You can listen to this blog here.

“One reason why there is so much interest in the diffusion of innovations is because getting a new idea adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is often very difficult” (Rogers, 1983, pp.1).

With technology increasingly playing a role in our curriculum and in our classrooms, fear and rate of adoption can be seen as a common barrier to using technology in education. Administrators, districts, and boards have a responsibility to monitor the diffusion process and should ensure the implementation of technologies are happening smoothly.

Diffusion of Innovation

Diffusion is explained as the process by which an innovation is communicated over time through the members of a social system. (Rogers, 1983). Innovation is an idea or practice that is perceived as new by an individual (Rogers, 1983).

If we are looking to adopt a new technology in the classroom we need to understand it can be difficult for people to see its advantages and can instill fear and hesitation. When introducing an innovation, uncertainty can come over our organization which, according to Rogers (1983), implies a lack of predictability, structure, and information. Think about a time where you have been directed to implement a product, service, or tool into your daily tasks. How did you feel? Excited? Calm? Nervous? Lost? Likely you had questions about why the change was occurring, how you would learn to use the tool, and how the tool would have a positive impact.

4 Elements of Diffusion

There are 4 elements to the diffusion process;

  1. Innovation
  2. Communication
  3. Time
  4. Social System

First, we must start with a new idea (the innovation), then that idea needs to be communicated amongst members of our social system. We then move on to the length of time the diffusion is going to take and finally we look at our social structure and how its elements may impact our diffusion process

The Rate of Adoption


The rate of adoption is the time it takes for the innovation to be adopted by members of the organization (Rogers, 1983). At first, there are usually only a few members who are on board with the new technology. These are the innovators. Then, as individuals communicate, more decide to adopt (starting with the early innovators and the early majority). Last, comes the late majorities (the skeptics) and the laggards (traditionalists). Take a look at this video to better understand the rate of adoption.

 3 Ways we can help Laggards be Innovators (or close to it)

The laggards are known as traditional (Rogers, 1983). They will generally have statements such as, “I like it the way I do it”, or “that is not the way we have done it in the past”. Laggards are content to stay in their comfort zones, and usually, slow down the rate of adoption. We can help laggards become innovators (maybe not fully, but you get the idea)

Innovation Configuration Maps

The innovation configuration is a clear picture of what constitutes the highest quality implementation (SEDL, 2015). The IC map is used to set out what practice is wanted in the classroom, shows which configurations are ideal and which ones are unacceptable. Essentially, it is a map of what we would like to see happen.

 Identifying the Stages of Concern

We are better able to address the concerns of individuals using the innovation if we identify them. The stages of concern looks at the attitudes, reactions, and feelings of those who are involved (SEDL, 2015).

Monitoring the Levels of Use

The levels of use interview protocol helps assess where the staff is in respect to the stage of implementation (SEDL, 2015); are they at the beginning stage, working through challenges, or working at an advanced level with a good understanding of the implementation?

If we can draw out a process, identify where the concerns are in the implementation and monitor how members of the organization are using the technology, we may be able to promote acceptance amongst the laggards (and anyone else who is hesitant to adopt).

***The above suggestions all come from the Concerns Based Adoption Model

Additional Resources

Diffusion of Innovations: Theory, History, and Examples

How to Start a Movement

Introduction to the Concerns Based Adoption Model


Rogers, E.M. (1983). Diffusion of innovations (5th edition). New York: The Free Press.

SEDL (2015). Concerns Based Adoption Model. Retrieved from

Online Disinhibition: Why educators should care


The Online Disinhibition Effect

The online disinhibition effect is defined as a lowering of behavioural inhibitions in an online environment (Lapidot-Lefler, & Barak, 2012). The idea is that the psychological restraints that we use in our personal daily lives, in face to face interactions, serve to block certain emotions or reactions we may have. These restraints are often lowered when online.

There are two types of online disinhibition:

  1. Benign Disinhibition
  2. Toxic Disinhibition

Benign disinhibition involves self-exploration (Suler, 2004). People will often reveal hopes or dreams that they have, or reach out to the online community to build or experience a new identity. Benign disinhibition is considered positive because people are expressing themselves for personal growth.

Toxic disinhibition occurs when people are looking for ways to act out or have issues of anger and resentment (Suler, 2004). These individuals will often make rude or derogatory comments, provide harsh criticisms or threaten others. Toxic disinhibition can be aggressive and intimidating.

Individuals who have higher disinhibitions may have characteristics of interpersonal difficulties (Casale, Fiovaranti, & Caplan, 2015). Some studies have even shown that higher disinhibition comes from those who are socially anxious, or those with low levels of self-presentational competence (Wang, Jackson, & Zhang, 2011 as cited in Casale, Fiovaranti, & Caplan, 2015).


Toxic Disinhibition in the Classroom

With technology increasingly playing an integral role in our pedagogy and our classrooms, toxic disinhibition is what educators need to address. Social media tools such as Facebook, YouTube, and blogs can amplify online disinhibition by increasing Invisibility and asynchronicity.  Participants are more invisible without physical interaction, body language or facial cues. In addition,  there is no need to cope with an immediate reaction to what is written, because people are not communicating in real time (Suler, 2004).

3 Ways to Address Toxic Online Disinhibition

As educators, we want our students to have a positive experience when using technology tools online and therefore need to find ways to address the issue.

Teaching the Growth Mindset

Psychologist Carol Dweck’s specific area of research has looked at mindsets and how people understand themselves and guide their behavior (Dweck, n.d.). The growth mindset is the belief that our brains and our skills are just the starting point to our learning and that our qualities are able to develop over time (Mindset Online, 2010). Those who harness a growth mindset are constantly monitoring what is going on and looking for ways to learn and improve. If we are able to teach a growth mindset, it is likely our students will develop stronger connections, and increase self-regulation when participating in online activities.

Social and Emotional Learning

THE SEL Framework described by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) describes 5 key pillars to social and emotional learning: Self-management, self-awareness, Social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making, According to Weare and Gray (as cited in Matthews, 2005), developing SEL can improve behaviour (in and out of the classroom); increase inclusion for children with emotional or behaviour issues, and improve learning. If we are able to teach and promote SEL skills, we may better able to prevent the toxic disinhibition that happens in online environments

Education on Appropriate Online Use

It is important that we educate students about appropriate online use and identify factors that increase toxic online disinhibition.  We must bring together parents, teachers, administrators and the community to educate. When toxic disinhibition occurs, comments can be hurtful to those on the receiving end and students need to understand the impact that words and aggressive online behavior can have on others. Resources such as the Red Cross, the WITS Program (Walk away, Talk it out, Ignore, Seek Help), and the Government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe are useful. Although labeled as cyberbullying prevention, these resources are able to provide information for parents, teachers, and students of all age groups on inappropriate online behavior.

Further Reading

Facebook Psychology: 7 Reasons Why We Act Differently Online

Why we act differently online. Backed by Psychology

Resources for Teaching the Growth Mindset

Mindset Kit

Why Social and Emotional Learning is Essential for Students

Instead of detention these students get meditation


Carol Dweck. (n.d.). Stanford University. Retrieved on March 21, 2016 from

Casale, S., Fiovaranti, G., & Caplan, S. (2015). Online disinhibition: Precursors and outcomes. Journal of Media Psychology, 27 (4), 170-177. doi:

Lapidot-Lefler, N., & Barak, A. (2012). Effects of anonymity, invisibility, and lack of eye contact on toxic online disinhibition. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 434-443. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2011.10.014 

Matthews, B. (2005). Engaging Education: Developing Emotional Literacy, Equity, and Co-Education. Berkshire: Open University Press.

Mindset Online (2010). What is Mindset? Retrieved from

Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 7 (3), 321-326. doi: doi:10.1089/1094931041291295