Among American people, 65 percent used social networking sites in 2015, which is a huge increase from only 7 percent in 2005. But a new research discovers that the more time young people use social media, the greater their chances are of being depressed.
The study comes from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania and is presented in the journal Depression and Anxiety.
Earlier studies have researched the possibly nefarious mental health effects of using social media sites like as Facebook, Tumblr and Google Plus.
One such research from 2015 saw investigators concluding that social media can lead to anxiety and depression, which could result in poor sleep quality, accelerating the problem.
And one more study, presented previously this year, recommended that social media use and sleep disruptions are connected.
However, the investigators from this recent research say that earlier research have come up with mixed outcomes, have been restricted by small samples and have targeted on individual social media sites, instead of the variety platforms that today’s young people use.
As per the study team, the new research, financed by the National Institute of Health (NIH), is the initial nationally representative research to examine the connections between social media use and depression on a wider perspective.
Regularity and quantity of time on social media implicated
To perform their research, in 2014, senior author Dr. Brian Primack and colleagues used surveys from 1,787 people in the US aged 19-32, to be able to determine their social media use. The surveys asked about the 11 most well-known social media sites at the time: Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. The investigators also used a well-known depression evaluation tool.
They identified that, on average, individuals used social media for 61 minutes every day, and they visited social media accounts 30 times a week.
Of the individuals, over 25% had “high” signs of depression, and there were major links between social media use and depression – whether the social media use was classed in terms of total time put in or consistency of visits.
In more detail, the investigators identified that the individuals who checked social media very regularly while in the week had 2.7 times the likelihood of depression, in comparison with those who checked least regularly.
In addition, the individuals who put in the most total time on social media had 1.7 times the possibility of depression, in comparison with those who put in less time on social media sites.
Leaving comments on their results, lead author Dr. Primack says:
“Due to the fact that social media has turned out to be such an integrated component of human interaction, it is essential for physicians interacting with young people to identify the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use.”
Dr. Primack and his team say their results could guide public health interventions to deal with depression, which is on track to turn out to be the major cause of disability by 2030 in high-income nations.
Cause and effect cannot be established
It is essential to observe that, while these results are important, they cannot set up cause and effect. The team controlled for other aspects that may play a role to depression, but lead author Lui yi Lin says:
“It may be that individuals who currently are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void.”
She adds that visibility to social media could trigger depression, which could then prompt more use of social media.
Some social media platforms have made their own preventive measures. For instance, on Tumblr, when a user looks for tags that suggest a mental health problem – such as “depressed” or “suicidal” – the site redirects them to a message that questions, “Everything OK?” and then provides links to resources.
Dr. Primack concludes that,
“Our wish is that ongoing research will enable such efforts to be enhanced so that they superior reach those in require.”