In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to avoid some sort of social media. From Facebook to Instagram, several media platforms allow for individuals from all around the world to communicate. This rise in public networks can often lead to negative impacts on an individual’s mental health. Given that ability, researchers have been able to link an increase in social media usage with depression. According to a study done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, researchers found that the more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to be depressed, accounting also for outside factors including age, race, gender, etc (Lin, 2016).
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental disorders composing of biological, social, and psychological factors. Additionally, depression can be described with symptoms of anxiousness and feelings of emptiness (NIH). On average, teenagers seek to fit in with their peers. However, technology works to magnify these struggles of not being outcasted. Social media is seen as an outlet in which people hope to highlight their best moments. Although it is known that every individual experiences hardship, people are more likely to not show any negative aspects of their lives. Thus, this may lead to a false representation to the public. Teenagers are likely to compare this to their own lives and feel out of place or depressed (Nalin). Author Lui Yi Lin claims that it is possible that depressed individuals use social media to fill a void (Lin, 2016). Furthermore, utilizing certain platforms and connecting with others can serve to give purpose in their lives. Within a study published in the Journal of ADAA, it is claimed that “the exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead a happier, more successful lives”. In addition, people that engage in activities of little meaning on social media may feel that they are wasting time.
Certain platforms can function in spreading emotions and influencing others. A team of researchers led by Adam Kramer at Facebook studied to see if online interactions can influence people’s emotions in the same regards as a face-to-face interaction can (Kramer 2014). For one week, some users would be shown fewer posts with negative emotional words, while others saw fewer posts with a positive one (Kramer 2014). Results were found to be significant and indicated that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions and thus indeed are contagious (Kramer 2014). Therefore, an online presence can have just as much of an effect on mood, as in person.
Additionally, the flexibility and increase in communication brought about by various online platforms can lead people to be susceptible to cyberbullying. With little effort, individuals can reveal secrets, pass around rumors, and taunt others (Nalin). There are several possible treatments for depression. This can range from medication to certain therapies. Beyond treatment includes trying to say active and exercise (NIH). Researchers are continuing to study the impact of social media on mental health and remain spreading awareness of cyberbullying.
Adam D. I., K., Jamie E., G., & Jeffrey T., H. (2014). Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, (24), 8788. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1320040111
Lin, Liu Yi (2016). Association between social media use and depression among US young adults. Journal of Anxiety and Depression Association of America Retrieved by http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/da.22466/abstract
Nalin, Jeff. Social Media and Teen Depression: The Two Go Hand-In-Hand. Journal of Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved by https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/social-media-and-teen-depression-two-go-hand#
National Institute of Mental Health (October 2016). Depression.