The world around us continually advances and provides new means for making our human experience on Earth as comfortable as possible. There are some who might argue some of these inventions that have helped us to advance as a civilization, have also caused us to take a step back in terms of mental health. Depression is a force that is rapidly taking hold all over the world, and social media use can be related to that in a substantial way. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the impact of social media use on depression by examining various studies on the effects of social media use on depression. The result of hours of investigation verifies the correlation between excessive time spent online and decreased mental health. When a person increases their use of social media, they are also increasing their chances of developing depression in a significant way.
Keywords: depression (feelings of severe despondency and dejection), social media (websites and applications that enable users to create and participate in social networking), mental health (a person’s condition with regard to their emotional well-being), social interaction (exchange between two or more individuals), social media fatigue (social media users’ tendency to decrease use in social media when they become overwhelmed with maintaining online connections), and cluster analysis (investigative analysis trying to identify structures within data)
As the world grows and develops technologically, old quotes such as “it’s a small world after all” seem to hold a new type of relevance. Social media is praised for making it drastically easier to connect with people from the most unlikely of places and for helping people find solace with others similar to them, and the best part about all of this? Social media users can accomplish these things without ever having to leave their house and make face-to-face contact. However, those who spend more time on social media/networking sites have drastically increased odds of developing depression versus those who spend less time daily on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Numerous studies have proven that when a person escalates their use of social media they are also escalating their chances of developing depression in a momentous way.
Facebook users with low self-esteem appreciate this particular site so much because of their self-protective qualities; they spend an excessive quantity of time thinking about what to post, and how other Facebook users will react to what they share. They are able to escape the discomfort that is always (to them) paired with face-to-face interactions. Researchers have confirmed that those with low self-esteem see Facebook as a safer place to express themselves and share emotions that those with higher reported levels of self-esteem do. In a study completed by Forest and Wood (2012) eighty undergraduate Facebook users finished the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale; using a measure that ranged from 1, not at all true, to 7, very true. After accomplishing that portion, participants then responded to questions about what their perception of Facebook was. In their report, they incorporated the degree to which Facebook permitted them to express themselves while also establishing connections with other people, a completed 9-item measure of the apparent security of self-disclosure on Facebook in contrast to in-person interactions, and a completed 10-item measure regarding the benefits of disclosing on Facebook rather than face-to-face.
Social media use is notably related with increased depression, as you can gather from the study discussed in the above paragraph. In order to further support this idea, a study was conducted by Lin et al. (2016) where 1,787 adults ages 19 to 32 were surveyed about social media usage and depression. By random sampling and random-digit dialing, the partakers were chosen. Social media was evaluated by the total time spent of social media, site visits per week, and a global frequency score centered on the Pew Research Questionnaire. Depression was assessed by means of the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System. Findings of the study show that compared to individuals in the lowest quartile of total time per day spent on social media, individuals in the highest quartile of social media site visits per week, and those with a superior global frequency score had significantly amplified odds of depression. This evidence is in no way to be ignored; established by hours of research and study it is made clear to everyone the noteworthy correlation between excessive social media use and the intensification of depression.
Folks located in various regions across Earth use social media for varied increments of time, but no matter where you are on this planet, the effects of the time you spend on social media are the same. Research rightfully suggests that when a person increases their consumption of social networking sites, they are, in turn, increasing their chances of partaking in unconstructive online experiences, scarcer social interactions offline, decreased ability to maintain attentive, and successively, a higher risk for depression. Adding further validity to the previous statements, a cluster-analysis was conducted using an online survey of a nationally-representative sample of US adults ranging from age 19 to 32. The participants were chosen through both address-based sampling, and random-digit dialing. Fiver variables were used by researchers to distinguish distinct patterns of social media use (time, frequency, multiple platform use, problematic social media use, and social media intensity). Depression was measured using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System 4-item short forms. Two explicit social media use patterns, wired and connected, were connected with the most jeopardy of depression and anxiety according to Shensa, Sidani., Dew., Escobar-Viera and Primack (2018).
As humans become more knowledgeable with time, social media features are constantly developing along with them, enticing and snowballing a vast amount of social media users. In 2018, Dhir, Yossatom, Kaur, and Chen investigated various consequences of social media fatigue and whether or not it results in depression. These researchers conducted a study utilizing the stressor-strain-outcome framework to observe whether psychosocial wellbeing measures (like compulsive media use and trigger fatigue) result in anxiety and depression. This particular study used cross-sectional methodology and two sets of data (N=1554, 1144) were gathered to test the research model with teenage social media users in India. The results determined that obsessive social media use produced social media fatigue, which caused raised levels of depression. Anyone who takes the time to dissect the research of this study can’t deny the fact that depression can be a terrifying and extremely real result of the overuse of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The numerous studies conducted by various scholars makes one thing undoubtedly certain, the more time a person spends on social media, the more likely they are to experience the reality of depression. The studies I have discussed in the above paragraphs prove undeniably that social media upsurges the likelihood of depression amongst its users, no matter their whereabouts on Earth. After realizing what a detrimental and negative effect that excessive social media use has on its operators, the research should not be ignored or taken lightly. In order to create a more comfortable offline environment for all, parents should set respectable examples for their children while they are still undeveloped and impressionable. An easy way to attain this is to avoid superfluous social media use. It is critical for children to witness and experience directly the rewards of face-to-face connections. Opening young minds up to offline exchanges will help immensely to diminish the odds of developing depression via social media. Once a child is exposed to the powerful phenomena of personal, face-to-face interactions between people, they will lessen their dependence on social media to feel connected. In doing this, they also triumph over depression caused by over-use of social media.