Feeling blue? Social media is the culprit

Feeling blue? Social media is the culprit


Spending considerable hours on social media every week has been linked to an increased likelihood of depression, according to a new study.

Brian A. Primack, a researcher from the University of Pittsburgh, US, stressed the importance of maintaining a balance in encouraging positive use of social media and redirecting its problematic use among the young adults of today.

In the year of 2014, researchers from the US analyzed the use of social media of 1,787 local adults aged between 19 to 32 years through a questionnaire. This questionnaire focused on the use of the 11 most popular social media websites including YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit and Vine, and on the basis of these made a depression assessment of the participants.

They found out that almost each participant on average used social media platforms for a period of 61 minutes each day and visited different social media accounts for about 30 times each week. More than 1/4th of the participants showed signs of increased depression, according to the researchers, and there was a direct and significant link between the number of hours spent on social media or the frequency of visits each week and depression.

To elaborate, those who participants who had highest least frequency of social media visits were 2.7 times likelier to suffer from depression than those who had the least frequency. Similarly, those who spent the maximum amount of time on social media platforms were had their risk of depression increased by 1.7 times than those who spent the least amount of time. Other contributing factors to depression such as sex, age, race, relationship status, ethnicity, household income, the situation of living, education level etc were also taken into account by researchers before they made their assessment.

Another researcher from the University of Pittsburgh, Lui Yi Lin, said that being exposed to idealized presentations of their peers on various social media platforms gives rise to feelings of jealousy and insecurity, with people believing that their peers actually lead better lives than they do.

Moreover, spending so much time on social media also gives a feeling wasting your time, which negatively influences the mood of the user. It can also spark of internet addiction, all of which are contributing factors to increased feelings of depression.

Spending a lot of time on social media can also give rise to increased instances of cyber bullying, and other such instances, which can leave users feeling depressed.

This research was published in the journal Depression and Anxiety.