Social Media is a new phenomena.
By and large we don’t really understand what social media is, or how exactly it affects us.
Yes, we know that social media fosters community and relationships like we’ve never seen before…
And yet, we don’t know how all the interconnectivity affects us. Is it good to be connected to hundreds (even millions of people) all over the world? Or, does social media have adverse affects on our psyche?
Does Social Media Harm the brain
A lot of people claim social media is harmful by nature. They site an increase in suicides in correlation with the increased use of social media as an example.
There’s also anecdotal evidence to support the claim that social media is harmful.
Many teenagers say they feel more depressed, or more anxious as a result of using social media.
But is their data to prove this is happening. A new study conducted by Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Canada may have some answers for us.
In the study, researchers followed two groups of people to see how social media use affected their mental condition.
The first group, 594 middle-school students (6th-8th grade). The second group, 1,132 undergraduate students from university.
Over the course of two years the researchers asked the first group questions on their social media use and their mental health once a year.
They followed the undergraduates for a longer period of time, 6 years total Most of the questions were on behavior.
Researchers asked how much time the participants spent on social media on weekdays and weekends and then they asked them about other activities and the time they spent on them; other activities included exercise, homework, watching TV and more.
Then the surveyed them to see if any of the participants exhibited signs of depression.
They employed the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and adapted it to an age-appropriate version for the younger participants.
“Next, the researchers analyzed the data, separating it into age and sex.
The findings — which now appear in the journal Clinical Psychological Science — revealed that social media use did not lead to depressive symptoms later on.
This held true in both groups of participants.
The scientists also found that in adolescent females, higher depression symptoms predicted later social media use.
Heffer points out that females of this age ‘who are feeling down may turn to social media to try and make themselves feel better.’
These findings suggest that overuse of social media does not lead to depression. More importantly, this may go some way toward dissuading public fear over the impacts of the technology.
What Does This Say about Social Media and Depression?
The researchers didn’t have any firm conclusions to make, but did caution that sweeping generalizations about social media use and depression aren’t founded on any firm research.
Like anything, depression is entirely dependent on a person’s psychological state and can’t be predicted by social media use.
This is probably just as true for younger individuals as it is for those who are 50+.
Social media probably isn’t as harmful as some people are led to believe.