Can Social Media Really Cause Depression?
New studies reveals how social media greatly affects your mental health
Connection and communication are the two important elements of the human behaviour; it is required for maintaining psychological well-being. Social media has become a ubiquitous part of everyone’s lives; hence, making it possible for millions of people around the world connect them with their loved ones be it with friends or family. But with the continuous use of social media, it is quite important to acknowledge the fact that this very mean, which is connecting people, updating them on others’ lives with statuses, images, videos, can also be causing depression among its users.
Almost everyone’s on social media, i.e., more than 3.48 billion people worldwide (Global Digital Report, 2019), making up 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation Z, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers (Emarketer, 2019). The typical activities on social media – updating statuses about their current life events such as landing a job, graduating, getting into a relationship, buying necessities such as a car or a home, etc. Another way of using is by being connected with friends and family. So, with all these social media activities, why does one struggle with depression? It is all about getting likes and shares. These two are like properties that start making people happy and content. A new study shows that likes on social media have a significant impact on its user’s brains. This affects their decision making, relationships, and friendships with the people around them.
“People who use social media the most were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than those who use social media to the least”Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
Depression And Loneliness
The University of Pennsylvania made its contribution to comprehending this link between social media and one’s well-being by studying their participants who were asked to use various social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The study was conducted and supervised by a renowned psychologist and associate director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, Melissa G. Hunt, who then published the results in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
143 undergraduates (108 women, 35 men) participated in this study and were randomly assigned to use the given networks only for 10 minutes a day for just three weeks. Each participant completed a survey that determined their mood and well-being, plus they had to share their smartphones’ battery screens, which were the baseline of the data.
Hunt looked at seven outcome measures such as FOMO (fear of missing out), social support, autonomy and self-acceptance, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and loneliness with the recent collected data. She said, “Using less social media than you normally would lead to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.” “Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours”, She adds. Hunt further elaborates on how cutting down screen time can actually make an individual less lonely.
When it comes to social media, the users pretend to have it all from great career to a successful relationship. Other users who come across these posts feel left out and hence, eventually becoming lonely and depressed. Another recent problem is with some users who deliberately post about their lives to make others feel jealous by social comparison, which again affects their self-esteem.
Hunt says, “When you’re not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you’re spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life.” Secondly, she adds, “In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life.” The result from this experiment strongly suggests that by limiting social media activities, it does have a positive effect on its users over time. Hunt advises people to use social media only for 30 minutes per day, which will significantly improve their well-being.
It is quite clear that the use of social media is omnipresent, but we ought to comprehend its outcome that is affecting its users. We must prioritize our mental health over a minor status update.
If you are someone who would like to improve your well-being, there are a few steps you can follow, such as :-
● Limit your social media use to only 30 minutes a day.
● Spend time with your family and friends.
● Invest your time in a hobby that could calm and relax, such as yoga, pottery, painting, reading, etc.
● Most importantly, stop using the phone in your bed.
Circulate this article with your friends and family to brief them about the link between social media and increasing cases of depression among its users.