The Connection Between Social Media and Depression
It’s no secret that social media has become a significant part of our lives. Young people are now more connected to their phones than the people around them, and it can be difficult for parents to understand how social media affects their children. The relationship between depression and social media is complex, but there are some clear connections between the two – with young adults being particularly at risk.
Depression is a general term used to describe feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration.
Depression is defined as “a mental disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss or loneliness interfere with daily life” by the Mayo Clinic. Depression can cause feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration.
Is Social Media Linked to Depression? It seems like many would say yes. Different types of depressive disorders can have other causes, but there is no doubt social media impacts the way many young people feel about themselves. The constant stream of often filtered images can leave users feeling inadequate without even knowing why they feel so rotten all the time.
Facts About Social Media and Depression
The following are key facts about social media and depression:
- Social media use is linked to a greater risk of developing anxiety or depression.
- Depression symptoms develop over time, especially among young adults who are heavy users of social networking sites.
- Research shows that teens who spend more than two hours per day on electronic devices report having fewer close relationships, feeling less connected to their parents, and doing poorly in school.
- A Lancet study published in 2018 found that people who check their social media platforms late at night, and those who log on before going to sleep, are more likely to be depressed.
- For young people especially, using social media late at night can worsen the symptoms of depression and cause what is colloquially known as “FOMO” (the fear of missing out).
- A 2015 study found that people who used their smartphone the most were 43 percent more likely to be depressed than those whose use was average.
Social media and depression are interconnected. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the risks associated with heavy social media use and take steps to safeguard your mental health.
Less Social Media, Less FOMO
Limiting social media usage may be the key to decreasing feelings of FOMO. FOMO refers to the “fear of missing out,” which may play a role in depression. A study conducted in 2018 showed that people who use social media more frequently are more likely to report symptoms of depression. It may be because social media can promote a sense of comparison and inadequacy, particularly among young users.
FOMO and social media seem to be incredibly prevalent among young people. Research suggests that Instagram, which has the most significant number of users under 35 years old, is one social media platform with particularly adverse effects on mental health. It could be because Instagram promotes images of other peoples’ happiest moments, making those who feel depressed feel even worse about their own lives.
Doomscrolling and the Cycle of Negativity
Doomscrolling refers to scrolling through Instagram feeds and seeing only pictures of other people having fun.
Social media can also make young people feel left out or lonely, contributing to depression.
Young people are especially vulnerable to this cycle because they often use social media platforms designed for their age group more frequently than older adults do, according to research published last year by Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute in England.
“There’s this sort of doomscrolling, where you’re just scrolling through, and it feels like everyone is having more fun than you,” Przybylski says. “It creates a kind of social-media depression.”
How To Safely Use Social Media
Experts say that social media doesn’t have to be harmful despite all these potential dangers. It’s all about how you use it.
“The key is moderation,” said psychologist Dr. Lisa Strohman in an interview with WebMD. “If someone is using Facebook as their only form of communication, they’re going to be at risk for problems. But if they’re using it in addition to other types of communication, like talking on the phone or in person, it won’t have a negative effect.”
Facts About Social Media
The connection between social media and depression is not 100% concrete, but there are some very compelling reasons to believe that social media can be linked to depression. That’s why it is crucial for parents and adults who work with children of all ages to teach them how to use their devices healthily.
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