Since social media practically took control of our lives, many concerned parties started analyzing the correlations between our leave of absence from the real world and our commitment to the online one, a choice that is detrimental to our capacity of engaging in healthy, dynamic human relationships and to our ability to fight depression. These studies go a long way back, to 1998 even, and since then, few psychologists, psychiatrists or pediatricians ignored the wave of subsequent research data linking the use of social media to symptoms of depression, difficulties in communication, social isolation and so on. Historically speaking, such studies have been conducted on gamers, once considered a very vulnerable group exposed to violence and social alienation and prone to develop violent behaviors as well. Now we are just calling them geeks and feed them with new games, consoles and VR platforms.
But back to the correlation between using social media and becoming depressed, a study published in 2011 in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics focused on the phenomenon of Facebook depression
defined as depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social mediasites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.
While the subject is still a bit controversial, this phenomenon is still under thorough research: a recent study conducted by two psychologists at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) found that
spending time on Facebook can depress our mood even if we have no particular reason to feel sad.
According to the researchers, the reason for all this is that social media
such as Facebook and Twitter can make us feel as though we’re wasting time much more than general Internet browsing.
The study focused on users’ feelings throughout the day, while they were exposed to Facebook use and it says that
many of them showed a noticeable drop in mood after spending a significant amount of time on Facebook. Participants in the study who just browsed on the Internet but who didn’t mess around on social media websites did not report feeling anywhere near as glum.
While there is still a lot of research to be done in this field, with eliminating a few hidden variables such as the nature of the Facebook content that people are exposed to that sends them on the verge of depression and expanding the research to a larger pool of subjects, there is no fire without smoke: Facebook depression is a real concern, especially for the young generation and prolonged use of social media can at some point shake a person’s psychological health parameters.