Social networking sites have been a part of life. At least, for the millenials. We wake up, the first thing we check is Facebook. We go to bed browsing the news feed. Even our alone time in the bathroom wouldn't be complete without surfing the internet. However, one recent study suggests that these social networking sites (SNS) could cause depression
by David Baker and Dr. Guillermo Perez Algorta from Lancaster University, shows that comparing yourself on Facebook, or other social networking sites, may cause depression. The study was gathered from studies all over the world which involved 35,000 participants aged between 15 and 88.
According to the study, a percentage of participants experienced "Facebook depression" as they spend a great amount of time browsing the feeds. These participants were teens and preteens, who exhibited classic symptoms of depression.
However, the effect of social network to mental health varies depending on several factors like age and gender. Experts say, the significant association of sites similar to Facebook and depression is that people can't help comparing themselves to others, which leads to rumination or overthinking.
"The fact that negative comparison with others when using Facebook was found to predict depression via increased rumination even when a general tendency to engage in social comparison offline was controlled for suggests that the effect of social comparison on Facebook is inherently different and may be more detrimental to psychological wellbeing than social comparison in real life," the study
Despite that, the study implies one can avoid 'Facebook depression' by changing some ways of using social networking sites, such as:
- Control feelings of envy when observing others
- Not being Facebook friends with former partners
- Avoid negative social comparisons
- Avoid frequent negative status updates
Experts say that though Facebook has potential negative effects to individuals, it can also be used as a tool to heal oneself. Social network sites can actually help with depression if it's used to enhance social support, or as a mental health information resource.
On the whole, how we use Facebook, our personality and life perspectives are the main factors of how these SNS affect our well-being. I say, Facebook is a blessing and a curse.
See also: Cellphone Use Could Lead To Depressed Teens