Social Media and Depression

Walking anywhere around campus, you will always see people staring intensely at their phones. I have to admit I am guilty of this too – whenever I walk by myself down the street I usually will take out my phone to check my social media accounts. Over the years, people have clearly gotten more addicted to the use of social media; whether its Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or any other site, people are constantly checking their feed to see what’s going on in their friends’ and family’s lives, even strangers’ and celebrities’ lives as well. However, it has come to the attention of some researchers and scientists that constantly checking social media can have bad health effects – specifically, it might be causing feelings of depression. The null hypothesis here would be that social media use does not cause depression and the alternative hypothesis would be that social media does cause depression.

An article by Medical Daily shares the findings of a study performed by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. The study included almost 2,000 people ranging between the ages of 19 and 32. They were required to answer questions on how much time they spent on specific social media sites. The researchers found that the participants used social media on average 30 times per week and 61 minutes per day (Olson 2016).

With this new information on how much time people sped checking social media, the researchers then decided to test the patients for depression. The tests showed that over 25% of the participants had depression (Olson 2016). They also found that people who checked social media the most were nearly three times more likely to become depressed than people who did not check as much. However, they found that this link between depression and social media use could be a reverse causation as well – people who are already depressed could be using social media as a type of escape to ease their feelings of depression (Olson 2016).

In conclusion, this is only the findings and opinions of one study performed. To really get a better understanding of the correlation between depression and social media use, more intense research would have to be done. Also, in addition to the possibility of there being a reverse causation, there could also be a third confounding variable creating a correlation between social media and depression. The takeaway here is that there is no definite link between social media use and depression. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to limit the amount of time you check your social media accounts – it could make you feel better and overall happier.



9 thoughts on “Social Media and Depression

  1. Melissa Fraistat

    This was a really interesting post to read. I find it fascinating that reverse causation could be the case in this correlation too, because both depression causing people to be on their phones more often, and people being on social media too much causes depression both seem to make sense. Since this is such a prevalent issue in our society, I hope a definite link and cause and discovered soon so people could watch and/or change their habits to look out for their health.

  2. Jessy Severino

    This was a really good post. The reason I say this is because you incorporated terms that we used in class and applied them all correctly. I wouldn’t have thought that there was a correlation between depression and social media usage but then again it does make sense that there can be reverse causation because people who may have depression can see social media as something that relaxes them and helps them get through their depression. In social media there are many positive messages and videos that are out there it is not all just bad things. I believe that anything that you do excessively becomes an addiction at some point and I wonder if there is any correlation between social media usage and addiction.

  3. Alexandra Kaminsky

    I think that there could be a possibility of reverse causation here. Social media can cause depression, yet depression could be caused by social media. There could also be third variables that are contributing to this. Social media can destroy self esteem and interactions with others, which could lead to depression. Take a look at this article I found.

  4. Sarah Elizabeth Read

    This is such a prevalent issue–especially today. Social media is a huge part of society, but so is depression. I can definitely see how the two would correlate. I look at my younger siblings and their exposure to social media and technology and I wonder what it is going to look like in ten years even. This makes me want to take some time away from social media, because you’re right– it can be addicting! You can look at it in a scientific manner or you can just think: how much happier would society be if phones did not play such a major role in everyday life? It’s the children of today that I am most concerned about when it comes to technological advance and social media. Here’s an article that talks about how social media harms kids now and how it could in the future:

  5. Justin Passaro

    Alexandra, this is interesting because I never thought of a possible correlation between social media use and depression. I was surprised when I saw that the participants were using social media for 61 minutes a day. I think it is possible that there is reverse causation involved. Maybe people who are already depressed are going on social media more often to fill some void in their lives. This article I found also mentions how their is an opportunity cost taken when spending time on social media. It explains that you are taking time away from participating in other activities that may help being happiness into your life.

  6. Dylan Huberman

    This is a very interesting post. Although social media was made and is used largely with good intentions, we’ve all heard that too much of anything isn’t good. Social media is no exception. Also, half of the posts people make on social media make their lives look more eventful than they actually are but people who view the posts feel worse about their lives because they aren’t doing those same things. In other words, life is not nearly as flawless as it looks on some people’s social media accounts. Check out this link below, which talks extensively about depression and other negative emotions that social media can cause.

  7. lkv5058

    Interesting post! I also discussed a similar topic in a previous blog period.
    It is amazing to see how much time people waste on social media and worrying to see that this number is increasing with each new generation. Something I found in my research was that not only does social media limit real social interactions, it can also destroy self esteem as many compare their imperfect selves to the perfect depiction of others. Due to this, and other factors, I could definitely see why there would be a link between social media use and depression. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Rebecca Jordan Polaha

    As I was reading I was glad you brought up the possibility of reverse causation. I also believe there are many confounding variables that can affect these results. You brought that up in your conclusion and directly stated it which was good. Social media technology is also vital in our generation, but more than enough definitely shouldn’t be good for you!

  9. Trae Vann Morgan-White

    There could be many other confounding variables that can lead to depression. For instance, our social media universe and real lives are two different things. We use social media to talk to people, like pictures and videos, or just to seek attention. In real lives, some people may not get the attention they desire from others, so social media is always there. I like this blog post because this is well-organized and the scientific concepts we’ve learned in Andrew’s lectures are explained thoroughly. Great job!

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