Does Social Media Cause Depression?
Full article: https://childmind.org/article/is-social-media-use-causing-depression/
In several recent studies, teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 percent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time.
“The less you are connected with human beings in a deep, empathic way, the less you’re really getting the benefits of a social interaction,” points out Alexandra Hamlet, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “The more superficial it is, the less likely it’s going to cause you to feel connected, which is something we all need.”
Fear of Missing Out
Indeed, one exception to the depression correlation is girls who are high users of social media but also keep up a high level of face-to-face social interaction. The study showed that those girls who interact intensely offline as well as through social media don’t show the increase in depressive symptoms that those who interact less in person do.
Jerry Bubrick, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, observes that “FOMO is really the fear of not being connected to our social world, and that need to feel connected sometimes trumps whatever’s going on in the actual situation we’re in. The more we use social media, the less we think about being present in the moment.”
Instead we might be occupied with worrying why we weren’t invited to a party we’re seeing on Instagram, or making sure we don’t miss a single post from a friend. But if we’re always playing catch-up to endless online updates, we’re prioritizing social interactions that aren’t as emotionally rewarding and can actually make us feel more isolated.
“Many girls are bombarded with their friends posting the most perfect pictures of themselves, or they’re following celebrities and influencers who do a lot of Photoshopping and have makeup and hair teams,” explains Dr. Hamlet. “If that’s their model for what is normal, it can be very hard on their self-confidence.”
Indeed, image-driven Instagram shows up in surveys as the platform that most leads young people to report feeling anxiety, depression and worries about body image.
Disrupts Concentration on Homework
Another thing disrupted by social media is the process of doing homework and other tasks that require concentration. It’s become common for teenagers to engage with friends on social media at the same time they are studying. They take pride in being able to multi-task, but evidence shows that it cuts down on learning and performance.
“Basically, multitasking isn’t possible,” Dr. Hamlet notes. “What you end up doing is really just switching back and forth between two tasks rather quickly. There is a cost to the brain.” And with poorer concentration and constant interruption, homework takes substantially longer than it should, cutting into free time and adding to stress.