The recent study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has produced many headlines referencing the link between social media usage and depression.
“Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use,” said senior author, Dr. Brian Primack and director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.
It’s about balance, not about taking away our devices and gadgets. According to the research, the more time spent on social media, the more likely a person is to be depressed.
Lead author of this study, Lui yu Lin noted that some depressed people turn to social media to fill a void, however it can result negatively has it fuels more internet screen time as follows:
- Exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.
- Engaging in activities of little meaning on social media may give a feeling of “time wasted” that negatively influences mood.
- Social media use could be fueling “Internet addiction,” a proposed psychiatric condition closely associated with depression.
- Spending more time on social media may increase the risk of exposure to cyber-bullying or other similar negative interactions, which can cause feelings of depression.
Let’s remember, online cruelty is not limited to youth. As Mashable just reported, actor Wentworth Miller was subjected to cyberbullying/harassment while struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
What can we do to start disconnecting and having more free time with friends, family and even ourselves?
Having these studies helps give us an awareness — I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads and thinking, hey, I don’t need a researcher to tell me I get depressed when I see my friends “living the life” as I’m struggling here…. (and remember, it’s only social media – you really don’t know what’s going on behind the screen).
Some suggestions to get unplugged:
- Find a cause. Is there something you’re passionate about? Get involved! For example, I love The Monique Burr Foundation — Child Safety Matters. I try to give as much time as I have to them in helping them with projects. It unplugs me and gets me involved in my community. What’s your favorite organization offline?
- iCanHelp StackIt. During every meal make it a point to STACKit! What a great campaign iCanHelp presented in 2014. It’s the gift that keeps on giving – talk to each other at meals.
- Set limits for yourself to answer emails and social media connections. It’s important, even as an adult, just as you give your child guidelines – give them to yourself too. It’s so easy to get online and not get off! Read Hands Free Life and start living again by Rachel Macy Stafford. (Lead by example if you expect your child to disconnect – you must be doing the same thing).
- Set your phone to silent in the car or when you are out visiting with friends. Distractions are rude. Distracted driving kills. There is no message that can’t wait until you arrive alive, or you are finished with visiting with who’s in front of you — face-to-face. BTW – silent and vibrate are different. You don’t need a buzz any type of movement to get your attention. Your friend or the road should be your only focus. Live your life!
I’m sure there’s many more ideas you have, feel free to leave them in the comments. Who knows — you may discover there’s more to real life than you realized and end up cutting your social media time in half. Nah – but here’s hoping to everyone’s continued happiness both online and off…..