WASHINGTON –University of Pennsylvania researchers say that for the first time they have linked social media to increased depression and…
University of Pennsylvania researchers say that for the first time they have linked social media to increased depression and loneliness.
The idea that social media is anything but social in terms of mental health has been talking about for years, but not many studies have actually managed to link the two.
To do that, Penn Researcher, led by psychologist Melissa Hunt, designed a study focused on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
Results were published in the November issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
How Study Worked
The study was conducted with 1
43 participants, before commencing a mood investigation, sent along images on their battery screens, showing how often they used their phones to access social media.
“We set up to do a much more comprehensive and accurate study that was also more ecologically valid.” Hunt sai d. The term, ecologically valid, means that research tries to imitate real life.
The study shared the participants into two groups: the first group had to maintain its usual social media. The other control group was limited to 10 minutes a day on each of the three platforms: Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
Restrictions were introduced for three weeks and then participants returned and tested for results as such (FOMO), anxiety, depression and loneliness.
Result of the study
The results showed a very clear link between social media u see and increased levels of depression and loneliness.
“Using less social media than you usually lead to significant decreases in depression and loneliness,” I say. “These effects are especially pronounced for people who were more depressed when they entered the study.”
She calls her findings “social irony” of social media.
What is social media that is just depressing?
Hunt says there are two big things. The first is that social media invite what Hunt calls “downward social comparison”. When you are online, it may sometimes seem like “everyone else is cooler and more fun and with more things and you’re omitted,” she said. And it’s only general demoralizing.
The other factor is a bit more nuanced.
“Time is a zero-sum game,” I said to VOA. “Every minute you spend online is one minute you do not work or do not meet a friend for dinner or have a deep conversation with your roommate.”
And these real activities are those that can enhance self-esteem and self-esteem, hunting said.
What You Learn
So what’s takeout?
People are on their devices, and it will not change, she said. But as in life, some moderation goes a long way.
“In general, I would say, put down your phone and be with the people in your life,” she added.
Hunt pointed out some precautions for the study. First, it was exclusively made with 18-22-year-olds, and it is unclear whether the depressive effects of social media will cross generation lines to older or younger people, Hunt said. But she expects her results to be generalized at least for people through the age of 30.
Hunt says she is now starting a study to measure the emotional effects of dating app.