Has Facebook lead to an increase in depression?
Americans spend hundreds of hours of their lives on social media and Penn State students are certainly no exception. Most people never think twice about pulling out their phone to see what’s going on with their friends and family, but maybe we should. While posting on your friends timeline or scrolling through your news feed seem like harmless activities, studies show they may be leading you to towards a state of depression.
For years scientists have seen this correlation, but a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology may have found the causality. They determined the link between social media and depression to be social comparison. The conclusion was that people make comparisons between the worst parts of themselves and the best of others, damaging their self confidence and leading them towards depression
Now the question is, what do we do? One could argue that not using social media anymore would be the best solution, but social media does have its perks. It keeps people connected, entertained, and makes events and pictures much easier to share. I believe the best thing to do is come to the understanding on you’re own that what you see on social media is not an accurate description of the lives of those around you. That way, you don’t compare the worst of yourself to the best of others. I think this approach would be much more effective than a ban on social media like the ones many school systems are using. If instead of blocking social media, schools educated students about how to approach it in a healthier manner, students might actually learn a lesson instead of just postponing their depression until they’re home from school.
There is much more to this debate about social media in school, more information about the pros and cons can be found here.
There is also another issue linking social media to depression. Stephanie Mihalas, PhD, a psychologist and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA believes social media can trap people in a dangerous cycle. She has discovered that people often use Facebook and other social media to try and escape depression, but the constant surfing of social media often is the root of the unhealthy emotions. She argues that being on social media keeps those already struggling with depression secluded, remote, and less attuned to the real world around them.
Social media is not all bad, but next time you’re scrolling through your news feed, be sure it is bringing out heathy emotions, not damaging your self esteem.