Communication is entirely different today than it was ten years ago. The emergence of social networking sites (SNS) is now pervasive across the globe. Whether used for business or personal communication, there are multiple advantages to the advancement of the internet, such as increasing global connectedness, distance learning, and remote work-from-home opportunities. However, some studies show that prolonged use of SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may have a relationship with the development of depression.
Potential Reasons SNS May Initiate Depression
The issue of SNS causing depression is a controversial one. However, there are numerous reasons why SNS use may cause a depressed individual to begin to use or increase their use of SNS. In 1998, a published study indicated that general internet use significantly affected participation in the community and personal relationships. They also found that more time spent on the Internet negatively impacted time spent with family. This study pre-dated Facebook’s release in 2004 which drastically increased the popularity of SNS.
Children and adolescent engagement with computers are significantly increasing with the growth of the internet and SNS. Although SNS allow people to interact with large quantities of people, these relationships are surface-level, and cannot replace face-to-face communication. A recent study utilizing high school students found a strong link between time spent on SNS and depression-like symptoms. The cause of these symptoms is associated with the altered perception of other users’ lives, physical traits, and personalities.
Drawing incorrect or false conclusions about someone else’s life dependent upon factors such as education level or physical appearance is common among those using SNS. These misperceptions lead to feelings like, “life is not fair,” as they leave the impression that other users are happier and more successful. Negative thoughts such as these perpetuate negative feelings and possibly ignite or fuel depression. Although more research is required to prove that SNS causes or increases depression, many users are limiting screen time to engage in face-to-face connections with others. This change may be due to the negative impact that SNS use seems to have on their lives.
Looking for Help?
Although it is not conclusive that Facebook and other SNS cause depression, it is important to understand that the research is pointing to this fact. Depression relates directly to alcohol and drug use as a way to escape these negative emotions and perceptions. If you are feeling disconnected in this internet-based world, you are not alone. Feeling depressed is a widespread issue, and treating it before it starts entails research like this to indicate the risk factors that plague our society today. At Fort Behavioral Health, we offer a safe and nurturing space for a long-lasting road to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 844.332.1807.