Is Social Media Use Linked to Depression in Adults?
Social media use has been associated with increased anxiety and reduced well-being. However, many studies investigating this issue may be questionable because they are based on self-reported social media use. Research has failed to demonstrate whether there is a causal relationship between depression and social media use and which comes first.
A recent study examines the connection between the development of depressive symptoms and social media use. The participants were aged 18 years and above. 65.7% were female, 76.3% white, 10.6% Black, and 4.7% Hispanic. The research team noted that Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat use is linked to a greater risk of an increase in depressive symptoms. Yet, due to the study’s observational nature, it cannot be established why social media use may be linked to depression.
One explanation is that individuals who are not depressed but are at risk of depression are more likely to use social media. Although many people use social platforms to feel more connected, this may have an inverse effect and develop depressive symptoms. The rates of depression have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic because people must use digital technology to connect with friends and family, and many of them rely on social media as a coping mechanism.
Still and all, no attempt was made to understand the link between social media use and depression. The researchers believe that the study has several limitations that need to be considered. The most important one is that all the factors that may have influenced the results could not be properly controlled.
Some of the experts suggest that users should limit the amount of time they spend using different apps. However, further research is needed to determine what is considered an appropriate amount of time to spend on social media.
So far, there is no consensus in the academic community that social media are harmful to mental health in a general sense. Nevertheless, more data is needed to understand the relationship between social media use and depression better.
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