Commentary

Using Multiple Social Platforms Linked To Depression

Young adults who use multiple social media platforms are more likely to experience symptoms of depression than peers who user fewer, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.

For the study, which will be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior in April, the researchers polled 1,787 U.S. adults ages 19-32 about their social media usage patterns, as well as self-reported indicators of depressive behavior.

The poll covered most of the major social platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and LinkedIn.

The survey found that respondents who use more than seven social media platforms were 3.1 times as likely to report symptoms of depression or anxiety than peers who use two or fewer social platforms.

Respondents who used the largest number of platforms were 3.3 times more likely than those who used the fewest to report depression and anxiety.

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Interestingly, the number of social media platforms used was a better predictor of depression and anxiety than the total amount of time spent on social media.

As always, it should be noted that the study doesn’t prove that using multiple social media sites actually causes depression, as the reverse could also be true. For example, the correlation might be due to the fact that people who are already depressed or more prone to depression, are more likely to turn to multiple social sites as a relief or distraction.  

However, some other studies have shown that excessive social media use may indeed be the culprit causing psychological problems in young people.

Last week, for example, I wrote about a British study which found that the amount of time spent chatting on social networks was negatively associated with feelings of life satisfaction in a number of categories among teenagers. The study addressed the issue of causation by adding another factor, Internet connection speeds at the local level, to the analysis.

4 comments about "Using Multiple Social Platforms Linked To Depression".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, December 27, 2016 at 2:53 p.m.

    Hormonal contraceptives have been linked to depression. Watching a lot of TV, especially binge-viewing, has been linked to depression. Abnormal neuro-transmitters are linked to depression, too.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 27, 2016 at 3:43 p.m.

    Checking in becomes a "high". The more checking in, the more "highs." Addiction is not limited to one particular activity. Addiction is as much as a learned behavior as using a fork. Without the "highs", depression follows. It's called addiction. We all know what addiction does.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, December 27, 2016 at 5:36 p.m.

    Information such as this must be used with caution, lest correlation be confused with causation.

    Do people who feel depressed used social media more (as an outlet)?   Indeed, could they feel less depressed when connected via social media?

    Or is it that people who use social media more become more depressed?

    Much more work needs to be done in this arena before any conclusions are drawn.

  4. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , December 28, 2016 at 10:25 a.m.

    Social media is a curse on humanity.
    It depresses me because I get tired of people on their phone in line to order food and can't pay attention to what they're doing.
    I get depressed when the person in the grocery store can't move up in line and pay for their groceries because they are consumed by the phone.
    I really get depressed when the car next to me weaves all over the road, and when you speed up to get around them, YEP, tapping on the phone.
    And i could not take it anymore when someone on Facebook says they had a cup of coffee, and my phone gets notified that 15 people commented on that cup of coffee........that was it, shut down facebook.  My life and time is far more valuable than to waste it away on looking at lunch pictures.

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