Are people who use social media frequently more likely to feel depressed? A new study says this is possible.
According to research from the University of Pittsburgh’s Centre for Research on Media, Technology and Health, young people who spend too much time on social media may risk becoming chronically depressed individuals.
The study involved 1,787 people in the United States between the ages of 19 and 32. On average, participants in the study used their social media accounts about an hour per day and accessed their accounts around 30 times per week. Of the 1,787 people included in the study, 25 percent were found to have solid signs of clinical depression.
The people who accessed their social media accounts most often during the week were 2.7 times more likely to show clinical signs for depression than people who accessed their social accounts less often.
However, the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Brian Primack, says that the results do not show whether or not frequent social media use leads to depression or whether clinically depressed people are more likely to use social media platforms more often than the average person.
It is possible that people who are prone to depression use social media more as a substitute for direct personal relationships. However, it is also possible that frequent use of social media can cause depression in people who become over exposed to the perfect pictures of life that are often portrayed on other peoples’ profiles.
There is also the possibility that frequent use of social media is a vicious cycle that is fed by both factors: depression leads to frequent social media use and frequent social media use increases depression in people.
Does frequent use of social media make people more depressed? Or, is it that depressed people tend to use social media more frequently? The verdict is not in yet, according to researchers.
Regardless of which way the link between social media use and depression goes, people might be better off spending less time posting, liking, friending and sharing on Facebook et al and more time living life away from their computers and smartphones.