Social media have changed our lives and have long since become an integral part of our everyday lives. They offer the opportunity to stay in touch with friends and family, find out about current issues and even launch careers. But the ever-increasing use of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Co. also carries a risk: depression.
A recent study by researchers in the fields of politics and education, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, shows that young adults who frequently use social media are more likely to develop depression within six months. Of concern here is that this occurs regardless of personality type.
Previous studies have already linked numerous factors to the development of depression, but there has been a lack of research focusing on the interaction of personality traits, social media, and depression. The current study fills this gap, finding strong and linear associations of depression across all personality traits.
Controversy makes people depressed
The study's findings are alarming: individuals with high neuroticism who use social media more than 300 minutes per day have twice the risk of depression than those with low neuroticism. In addition, the study found that people with high agreeableness were 49 percent less likely to develop depression than those with low agreeableness.
Social media use is strongly associated with the development of depression for each personality trait. The study's authors suggest that problematic social comparisons can reinforce negative feelings, explaining why and how the risk of depression increases with increased social media use. Engaging with mainly negative content can also increase these feelings. In addition, increased social media use reduces opportunities for personal interactions and activities outside the home.
The study results should make us all think. We should be aware that our behavior on social media can have an impact on our mental health. Therefore, we should consider limiting our use or avoiding certain content to promote our well-being. We should remember that life is not just about virtual interactions and we should spend our time engaging in activities outside of social media.
Is social media cause or effect in depression?
Social media may cause depression in adults, according to another study published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open. Researchers surveyed 5,395 adults aged 56 and found that people who used Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat were more likely to be affected by depression than those who did not use social media. However, the study cannot prove that social media use causes depression. It is entirely possible that people who are already depressed are using social media more.
It is important to be mindful of the time we spend on social media. The platforms are designed to keep us on as long as possible. Being aware of how much time you spend on social media can help prevent depression and lead a healthier life.