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Limited exposure to social media might be beneficial for adult mental health

08-19 | DTC Team

Limited exposure to social media might be beneficial for adult mental health

Lately, social media platforms have been in the news for mostly wrong reasons. From data breach incidents in different countries to its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential polls, their reputation has taken a hit in the recent years. To add to that, there were several reports emerging from time to time which claimed that social media adversely affected an individual’s mental health causing several disorders, like depression and anxiety, and issues like loneliness and psychological distress.

Contradicting all such claims and reports, a recent study reported that spending a maximum of 30 minutes per day on social media might actually improve mental health. The study, led by Dr. Keith Hampton, a professor of media and information at Michigan State University in East Lansing, examined the effects of Facebook on the mental health of U.S. adults. He said that most of the previous studies claimed adverse effects because the sample group of such studies comprised mostly of young adults and college students. Since early adulthood was an unsettled emotional stage of life, the results often predicted mental health issues.

Dr. Hampton added that concluding that the whole generation was at risk on the basis of findings limited to a particular age group was unsubstantiated because social media did not acknowledge several factors like social changes, effects of single child families, single parent families, or rising student debts.

Mental health affected by several factors, not only social media use

The researchers studied the data of 5,129 contributors and 3,790 members of their extended families in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) from 2015 to 2016. PSID is the longest running household panel survey in the world and its unique structure allowed the researchers to study not only social media use and its effects on the mental health among the participants, but also the dynamics of family relationships. The researchers used this study to also test a theory related to social causation which took into deliberation the various other social factors that influenced the mental health of an individual.

The participants were questioned regarding the frequency of their social media usage and the options given were – everyday, few times a week, once a week, less than once a week, and never. They were also asked to rate their mental health symptoms on a five-item scale from ‘all of the time’ to ‘none of the time.’

Mental health of particular groups more likely to be affected

After a thorough analysis, the researchers found that nearly 63 percent of the participants who used social media were less likely to experience mental health issues such as anxiety and depression as compared to non-users. This was likely because social media helped in connecting people with their friends and family and also provided access to information related to health.

The results also showed that an individual’s mental health could be affected in case another family member on the same social media site suffered from psychological distress. The study also observed that certain groups of adults such as  low-income groups, people with lower education levels, residential instability, and unmarried people were more likely to experience mental distress. Another factor that affected the mental health of individuals was the choice of social media platform and the extent of use.

Seeking treatment for mental health disorders

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that nearly 50 million adults in the U.S. live with a mental health disorder including depression and/or anxiety. Depression is one of the most common but a serious form of mental health disorder. It is an incapacitating disorder which affects an individual’s day-to-day life including the way they feel, think, or act. Therefore, if a person feels that they are affected, they should not hesitate in seeking medical intervention at the earliest to ensure good mental health.

If you know someone battling mental illnesses, such as depression, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to get assistance in finding the best depression treatment centers. Call us at our 24/7 helpline (866) 427-5668 to connect with credible treatment centers for depression. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.


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