Can Social Media Lead to Depression?

sad computer

A new study conducted at the University of Missouri has found an interesting correlation between social media sites, such as Facebook, and depression. Professor Margaret Duffy, co-author of the study, explains that the way a person uses Facebook may decide whether or not they experience symptoms of depression.

“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives.” Duffy said. “However, if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship – things that cause envy among users – use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”

The study, which questioned 700 young users, found that “surveillance users” of Facebook often feel a sense of envy which can lead to depression. These “surveillance users” are the ones who browse through Facebook in order to compare their life to those of their friends’.

Professor Duffy said: “We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression. Facebook can be a very positive resource for many people, but if it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect. It is important for Facebook users to be aware of these risks so they can avoid this kind of behavior when using Facebook.”

The study and its findings have been published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.