Study: Young People Who Use Multiple Social Media Platforms Are More Likely to Be Depressed
Researchers find more evidence of the link between social media use by young adults and depression.
Researchers published an eye-opening analysis that shows just how much social media and depression are linked in young adults. The more social media platforms they are on, the more likely they are to be depressed.
The analysis was led by a team from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health. In particular, the scientists found that people who reported using 7 to 11 social media platforms were 3 times more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety than their counterparts who used 0 to 2 such platforms. These include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.
“This association is strong enough that clinicians could consider asking their patients with depression and anxiety about multiple platform use and counseling them that this use may be related to their symptoms,” said the paper’s lead author and physician Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D. “While we can’t tell from this study whether depressed and anxious people seek out multiple platforms or whether something about using multiple platforms can lead to depression and anxiety, in either case the results are potentially valuable.”
A previous study in which Doctor Primack participated found a clear connection between social media use and increased depression in young adults. For the current study, in 2014, the team sampled 1,787 young people between 19 and 32 years of age. They used a depression assessment questionnaire as well as questions on social media use. They controlled also for other potential contributors to depression and anxiety, such as race, gender, relationship status, household income, education and total time on social media.
It should be noted that Primack himself cautions about what the study could mean. Is it that increased social media usage causes depression or do depressed people use more social media?
“It may be that people who suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety, or both, tend to subsequently use a broader range of social media outlets. For example, they may be searching out multiple avenues for a setting that feels comfortable and accepting,” said Primack in a statement. “However, it could also be that trying to maintain a presence on multiple platforms may actually lead to depression and anxiety. More research will be needed to tease that apart.”
Primack and the team do, however, offer some ideas on why social media use could contribute to depression. These include:
- multitasking as switching between platforms has been shown to impair cognitive and mental functioning
- different rules for different platforms could be confusing and contributing to negative emotions
- more potential social media embarrassments that would come with using more platforms
The ultimate goal of this research? To be used in treatment. The study’s co-author and psychiatrist César G. Escobar-Viera, M.D., Ph.D., weighed in:
“Ultimately, we want this research to help in designing and implementing educational public health interventions that are as personalized as possible.”
The study “Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults” is available online and will be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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