Published: Wed, July 17, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Increased social media use leads to increased feelings of depression

Increased social media use leads to increased feelings of depression

"The algorithmic characteristics of television consumption and, in particular, presence on social media create and maintain a kind of vicious circle by suggesting content similar to users based on their previous search and selection behaviour", Boers added.

The researchers found that high levels of computer use over four years were associated with increased depression, but any further increase in use in that same year was not associated with increased severity of depression.

Depression and other mental health struggles seem only to be becoming more unbearable for teenagers.

Additionally, while the study distinguished between various types of screen time, more research is needed to distinguish between various platforms or genres within those types, such as Snapchat versus Instagram for social media, or sitcoms versus reality shows for television viewing.

Interestingly, the study found that each year teenagers were spending more on social media than the year before.

An increase in teen depression is being linked to the amount of time they spend viewing social media and watching television, according to a recent study.

"I don't think that [social media] is the only reason, but it's one of the risk factors we should monitor", said Gignac. The researchers featured their research in JAMA Pediatrics on July 15.

"Taking into account the upward social comparison, it might be that repeated exposure to idealized images on social media and television decreases self-esteem", they wrote.

The study was done by a Montreal research team from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal, and Sainte-Justine University Health Research Centre in Montreal.

Ever since the world was plunged into the digital age, much has been made about the effect of "screen time" on the mental health of teenagers. "There are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there's also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are living with in person", he said.

While social media and television both increased depression, social media screen time was the most harmful.

"Furthermore, based on reinforcing spirals theory, people seek out and select information congruent with their current state-of-mind".

Researchers conducted a four-year study of more than 3,800 adolescents between Grades 7 and 11 in the Montreal area.

But, she noted that their findings also point to a preventive opportunity.

The study of 1,786 girls and 2,028 boys aged 12 to 16 found that if they reported their social media use and television viewing surpassed their overall mean level of use in a given year, then their symptoms also increased that year.

She and her team saw changes in social media use, TV watching and depression, even within the same year, as well as year-over-year.

'This is highly encouraging from a prevention perspective, ' Dr Conrod said.

"Early identification of vulnerability to depression gives clinicians and parents a large window of time in which to intervene", Conrod said.

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