Social media does not cause depression, suggests new research

The study has come as a contrast to the many others who had suggested otherwise.

We have often read reports and studies which suggest that too much of social media can lead to depression. But, according to a new research, it does not necessarily cause depressive symptoms in adolescents and young adults later in their lives.

However, the study also shows that an excessive use of social media can lead to relatively higher depressive symptoms in adolescent girls.

The study has come as a contrast to the many others who had suggested otherwise. “You have to follow the same people over time in order to draw the conclusion that social media use predicts greater depressive symptoms. By using two large longitudinal samples, we were able to empirically test that assumption,” news agency IANS quoted the lead author of the research Taylor Heffer from the Brock University in Canada as saying.

To conduct the research, 594 adolescents and 1132 college graduates were surveyed by a team of researchers. The findings of the research have been published in Clinical Psychological Science. The results of the study reveal that depressive symptoms among adolescents or college undergraduates later were not predicted by social media overuse; rather, greater depressive symptoms predicted more social media use over time, but only among adolescent girls.

“This finding contrasts with the idea that people who use a lot of social media become more depressed over time. Instead, adolescent girls who are feeling down may turn to social media to try and make themselves feel better,” Heffer added.

The research has shown that the fear associated with social media use and its impact on an individual’s mental health may be premature. “When parents read media headlines such as ‘Facebook Depression’, there is an inherent assumption that social media use leads to depression,” Heffer was quoted as saying by IANS.

According to the study, different groups of people use social media platforms for different reasons. While one group may use it for comparing their lives with others while feeling down, another may use social media for positive things such as staying connected with friends and learning new things.

The study also noted that examining the role that these differences play can help in clarifying the ways in which social media interacts with mental health with implications for parents, policymakers, and healthcare professionals alike.

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