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Linking Social Media Use to Depression

Stephen Kinder, Contributor

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There is no denying that social media plays a prominent role in society; ranging from business advertisement to simple blogging of everyday activity, the use of social media is certainly not going away. If one walks into a any place whether it be a school or restaurant, one will probably see that people will have their faces buried down into their phone scrolling through Instagram, or responding to streaks on Snapchat. Like anything else when used out of moderation, there are side effects.

So, what happens when people use social media too much?

Excessive use of social media can lead to a variety of mental health issues, and it is mostly impacting young adults. One study in 2016 that used 1,787 teenagers showed that those that used the most social media apps and those that used them for longer periods of time had three times the risk to mental problems such as depression and anxiety when compared to those who had little to no social media use.

Those exposed to extra social media use often have mental issues because there are many staged pictures of people insisting that they have flawless and fun filled lives, and their amount of followers justifies that. The exposure to “highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives,” says one study on this topic. The culture of sharing everything on the internet has made some people think that their lives are inadequate in comparison, and it isolates them with a crippling loneliness.

In addition to people only posting the best of their lives on social media, cyber bullying is no new issue. With communication at the touch of a button, almost anyone can have their own mob of people who can spread slander and things that are downright mean about their peers. Often times, people feel at home with cyber-bullying others because they can their actions behind a screen and often times the bullies do not have the courage to say things to their victim’s face.

In another study, a group of volunteers took notes on short-term behavioral changes in response to excessive social media use. Depressive and anxious symptoms came from time spent online, but rather than negative experiences; such as cyber harassment and other unwanted experiences.

While social media does seem to be a problem and can cause people to bud mental illnesses, sometimes it can be helpful. For example, if someone searches for tags “depressed” or anything that relates to suicide on Tumblr, then the website will show a prompt that has lots of resources to get help and combat their depression or whatever mental health problems they have. While this is a controversial thing, Facebook allows other uses to flag posts that seem to have a depressive or suicidal tone, which will cause the Facebook staff to try and help the user that has these issues.

If social media is causing depression, then it would be a wise move to limit the time used, and to fill those time gaps with sessions with professional help, a pursuit of hobbies, or spending time with friends or family.

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please refer to any of the resources below:

United States

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Veterans press 1 to reach specialized support.

(The older number, 1-800-SUICIDE, is no longer published by the lifeline agency and will probably stop working in the near future.)

Online Chat:

Crisis Text Line: Text “START” to 741-741

Spanish: 1-800-SUICIDA

Samaritans (





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