Flipping through social media entities like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other similar life-sharing platforms can be an excellent way to pass the time, keep up with family and friends, or simply stay in tune with what’s going on in the world. However, none of this means we’re always happy about our relationship with social media or the people in our networks.
According to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, it was discovered that using social media is “significantly associated with increased depression.”
To reach this conclusion, researchers assembled nearly 1,800 American millennials (aged 19-32) and provided each individual with a depression assessment tool kit, as well as a questionnaire related to time spent on popular social media platforms like the ones listed above.
When the results came back, it was determined that more than 25% of the study’s participants had sizeable indicators of depression. What’s more, those who spent the most time using social media were 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than those who minimize their time Facebooking, tweeting, or snapping shots for Instagram.
“We had expected a U-shaped curve, with a higher risk of depression being correlated with no social media use at all or excessive use,” explained Dr. Brian Primack, Senior Author of the study and Director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.
He continued: “But instead what we found was a straight line. More social media use was associated with more depression in a linear fashion.”
Primack also acknowledged the possibility that some depressed individuals turn to social media to “fill a void.”
Even still, what is it about social media that makes people sad?
“Highly idealized representations of peers on social media may elicit feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives,” offered Primack, who also noted that cyber-bullying could also play a role.
Although a distinct age demographic was focused on in this study, it is very likely that those younger than 19 and older than 32 also feel sadness when spending too much time on social media. While there’s not a cure-all guaranteed to wash away the negative feelings social media can give us, we can all choose how we approach it.
If some people on your network rub you the wrong way (regardless of why), you can simply choose not to stay connected to them, or adjust your account settings accordingly. Perhaps, you may just need to cut back on the hours you spend online.
That said, if these suggestions don’t work for you, try this: don’t take social media too seriously. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel by not allowing it to dictate your emotions.