Is hooking up to social media making people depressed?
WHO estimates that 300 million people all over the world are in depression. According to the latest study, the first 5 countries to have the highest rate of depression are China, India, the USA, Brazil, and Bangladesh. It also has been found that people in the age group of 18-29 years have the highest rate of depression (21%). Recently, in a study led by Professor Dr. Brian Primack from the University of Arkansas, it was found that young adults who use social media significantly, develop depression within six months. As the depression and social media usage go together, this first-of-its-kind large national study brings the answer to the egg-chicken paradox in this case. This study recently got published in the reputed American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
How was this study conducted?
The team recorded data for more than 1,000 U.S adults based on the validated nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire and additionally asked about the amount of time they used to spend on social media per day. To reflect the greater U.S population in this study, information about age, sex, income, education, race were included with survey weights. It was found that the participants (within the 18-30 years age group) spending 300 minutes per day on social media are 2.8 times more likely to get depressed within six months than those who used less than 120 minutes per day.
What is our current understanding of social media usage and developing depression?
Talking about the uniqueness of this study, Primack explained, “High initial social media use led to increased rates of depression. However, initial depression did not lead to any change in social media use.” If a person spends more and more time on social media, then he or she gets less chance to meet new people physically and sometimes this creates obstacles in the path of achieving personal or professional goals.
This study is important to the specific age group as this is the age when they start developing their identity and ideology. An abundance of ideas on the social platform makes them confused and they also develop the feeling of not measuring up to the ideals they are exposed to. The findings are particularly important in this trying time of COVID19 when it’s harder to connect socially in person. WHO has already declared depression to be the leading cause of disability and in this hard time what the study uncovers, is not much pleasant.