Several studies conducted over the years have found close links between frequent use of social media and depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem, and self-harm. This pattern is more likely to hit teenagers and adults using social media, over those spending no or lesser time. While studies show a correlation between mental health issues and social media usage, there is no direct cause that leads to these symptoms due to social media. A common factor traced between the two is however reportedly a rise in the use of smartphones.
In the 21st century, one’s social media handle defines their lives. Professional to personal, social media is a reflection of people’s lives. Irrespective of real life status, people try to keep their social media status on point. To get to know someone new and unknown, it is their social media handle that people these days resort to. Basically, the world now revolves around social media. It has pertained in our lives enough that it influences our lifestyle choices, decisions and mental health status. The millennials and Gen Y are so hooked to social media that their everyday life updates are on their handles. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, LinkedIn among other social media networks have a lasting impact on netizens. However, it can take a toll on our mental health apparently. This can lead to depression.
A Sage report headed by author Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University researched the correlation. The 2017 study identified that among half a million eighth through twelfth graders, there was a 33 percent increase of high level depressive symptoms between 2010-2015. It also found that there was a 65 percent increase in girls’ suicide rate. Social media is also said to leave an individual feeling isolated, that can resultantly turn into depression. The study also revealed that girls of the same age group, who interacted both virtually and offline did not exhibit depressive symptoms as others.
Now, a new study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public researchers is debunking these popular beliefs.
The Journal of Adolescent Health published research finding and reports . First Author Noah Kreski, MPH says, “..there are no compelling evidence to suggest that social media use meaningfully increases adolescents’ risk of depressive symptoms”. The research assessed study records collected by Monitoring the Future which analyses American behaviours, attitudes and values from adolescence to adulthood. The data represents 74, 472 eighth and twelfth graders from the years 2009-2017.
Recent data and studies indicate a significant rise in depression, depressive behavior and suicidal thoughts among adolescents. This is particularly higher among girls. While the new and old studies might conclude no direct relations between social media and mental health issues. Parents and doctors are concerned about the increasing suicide tendencies and depression. With the mounting and aggressive cyber-bullying, social media trials and real life isolation caused by the virtual screens, it becomes important to address the problem. Excess of nothing is good after all!
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