Does Social Media Contribute To Depression?

social media for depression cover image

The difference between the older generations and future generations is that previous generations knew how to connect with their peers without the help of any electronics. While teenagers and young adults 90 percent of life revolves around social media apps. 

Research

There are studies that can link social media to depression, anxiety, poor sleep, lower self esteem, inattentiveness or hyperactivity. But these just establish a correlation which means there is no proof that one causes the other. 

Does this mean Instagram or Facebook affect your mental health?  This statement is controversial. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology established that is a link between the use of social media and effects on the well-being negatively.

Although social media networking sites allow people to connect from one corner of the world to another, these are not at all emotionally satisfying which leaves them feeling socially isolated. A study conducted in 2017 of youngsters between 8th and 12th graders found that the depression symptoms have increased by 33 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Continue to read to know how actually using social media has an effect on your mental being which further leads to depression. 

Effects

‘Brain-hack’ ed to Happiness

Social media apps are businesses. These are also on the lookout for making money. So their business goal is to increase the session duration of each user as much as possible in order to deliver as many advertisements to individuals as possible. In order to keep the users online as long as possible, these applications use triggers to reward the users for spending more time on social networking sites.

The body produces a neurotransmitter, dopamine whenever you feel rewarded or pleasure. These triggers in the form of rewards make you addicted to these applications by releasing more and more dopamine. 

This can be further simplified. For instance, you upload a picture with the quirkiest caption. Now with every like or comment on your picture, you get a positive feeling of acceptance. This is due to dopamine. But when you don’t get the feeling of belongingness due to no release of dopamine, you feel fear or get anxious and feel lonely. n

Social Media taps into Your Psychology

social media into depression

Emotional contagion is another effect of social media. This is defined as the phenomenon of transmitting emotions to the users after seeing a post without their control. This is a very common psychological effect that occurs when you talk face-to-face with somebody. There is sufficient evidence that proves that strong emotions such as happiness, anger, sadness, can pass on from the application to the user. 

The research revealed that your emotional states can get manipulated through social media, either by simply scrolling emotional posts or reading them. For example, when you see a sad post shared by your friend, you easily get worked up. Or as soon as you watch a video of a dog, you feel enlightened. 

You Live in Your Bubble

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You might have seen that as soon as you see something of your personal interest, you get pop-ups of related content. The reason being there is strong algorithms behind this feature that make you want to stay on the app longer. When you tend to engage in the same type of content over and over again, the algorithms create a virtual ‘bubble’ that blinds you from seeing the world outside.  You start being more lonelier which affects your emotional state negatively. 

How To Cope With It 

You can take some steps to ensure that social media usage is under check-

  • Focus on balance

Engage in face-to-face social interactions rather than online. Face-to-face interactions help to build an identity as well as self-confidence. Ask your kids to bring their friends to a party or plan a group study. This will help them connect with their peers.

  • Turn off notifications

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As app developers track each and every preference in your social media feed, they lure you to visit the app again and again by continuous notifications. Turn off those notifications now so that you are able to concentrate better at your work. 

  • Use social media mindfully

Be honest with yourself and ask yourself how does social media make you feel. If some particular content is making you feel bad, then disengage from interactions that increase stress or distraught.

  • Practice what you preach

no phones allowed

Follow some simple tips. A phone-free dinner is a great option. It will help you connect with your family more and connect with them better. When you practice these tips, others may feel encouraged to follow your path.

  • No phone before sleep

When you use the phone just before you sleep, it affects the subconscious mind. Instead of scrolling, try reading a book before going to bed. To wake up, use a retro alarm clock. 

Final words

Social media is not going anywhere anytime soon. Rather, it will just keep on getting more wrapped in our lives. The trick lies in how you use it. Using social media in limit and sticking to some back guidelines can minimize the risk of depression. 

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