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.