Does Social Media Cause Depression?
By Randi Morse
Social media is no longer some mystifying thing. Only a handful of years ago, the only people who frequented social media were musicians and bloggers. Now, everybody from a 5-year-old to a 90-year-old seems to have some type of social media account. In fact, it is estimated that about 77 percent of all Americans have a social media account. Social media has become normalized, but does that mean that it's healthy to use?
A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology proved that there is a link between social media and depression. Jordyn Young, who co-authored the paper, said, "What we found overall is that if you use less social media, you are actually less depressed and less lonely, meaning that the decreased social media use is what causes that qualitative shift in your well-being." According to the study, this is the first time that they have ever been able to establish a definite link between social media and oppression.
The study conducted took place over three weeks. The group of volunteers were asked to reduce the amount of time they used social media by ten minutes a day. Researchers kept close watch on the volunteers' phone to ensure that everyone followed the rules. They also had a control group that didn't alter their social media usage at all. The results proved that the participants who decreased their social media usage had lower levels of depression than the control group.
Social media was created to help connect us with friends and family, something that should make us happy, so why is it causing conditions like depression and anxiety? The answer is pretty complicated, but a big aspect of it is the competitive nature of social media. People post photos of their lives online. A busy mom of three might post a photo of all her children playing happily on the playground, or a photo of herself made up for date night with her husband. That is all she allows visitors to her page to see. What we don't see are the days she's sick, the times she's exhausted from caring for her teenagers, or how hurt she is when she's been fighting with her husband.
Because people are being so selective with their lives, we see their lives as perfect. We then compare their lives to our own and when our lives come up short, we feel like we're doing something wrong and wind up depressed and feeling lonely.
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