More reports on: Social media

Researchers warn of social media-induced depression in young adults

28 March 2016

Young adults have been struggling with social media addiction much more than earlier thought, researchers say.

According to research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the more young  adults use social media, the more they are likely to be depressed.

Researchers said social media sites could be fuelling 'Internet addiction,' a proposed psychiatric condition closely associated with depression.

The study polled 1,787 US adults aged 19 through 32, using questionnaires to determine social media use and an established depression assessment tool.

The subjects were asked questions about the 11 most popular social media platforms at the time - Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

The participants' social media use averaged 61 minutes per day while they visited various social media accounts 30 times per week.

Over a quarter of the participants were classified as having 'high' indicators of depression.

According to commentators, the findings could guide clinical and public health interventions to tackle depression, projected to emerge as the leading cause of disability in high-income countries by 2030.

'Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use,' said Brian Primack, director of Pitt's Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, reported.

According to Lui Yi Lin, of the University of Pittsburgh, it might be that people who already were depressed were turning to social media to fill a void.

She added the exposure to social media might  also cause depression, which could in turn fuel more use of social media.

Seeing idealised representations of friends on social media caused feelings of envy while spending more time on social media might up  the risk of exposure to cyber-bullying.

The study further found that engaging in activities of little meaning on social media might also induce a feeling of ''time wasted'' that negatively influenced mood.

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