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Does Facebook cause depression?

Broken cell phone Credit: Julian/Flickr/Creative Commons

Broken cell phone Credit: Julian/Flickr/Creative Commons

According to a study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, there may be a link to depression and loneliness to the amount of time a person spends on social media.

In fact, Psychologist Melissa Hunt who was part of the study described the connection between depression and social media usage as “striking.”

In their study, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, the researchers studied the impact social media usage had on 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania who were struggling with moderate forms of depression.

They focused on three social media platforms: Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Half the group was limited to using social media just ten minutes a day (tracked by battery usage on their phones) and the other half continued on as normal.

When the researchers tested the two groups at the end of three weeks, they discovered that the group with limited usage saw their levels of depression fall from moderate to mild and there was absolutely no change in the other group that continued usage.

Though some have suggested, lonely people use social media, particularly Facebook, to make social connections, the study revealed that social media may actually increase loneliness and depression.

So why do social media platforms cause depression?

I found the researchers answer to be quite interesting. They suggested that people become depressed when they compare themselves with others who are posting the highlights of their day.

The Apostle Paul warned about comparing ourselves with others writing that instead we should be looking at the growth in our own lives:

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. (Galatians 6:4-5 NIV)


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