Friday, October 25, 2019

Do Social Media Produce Depression?

You will certainly recall the multitude of studies blaming social media for the spike in depression among young people. True enough, more and more of America’s youth are depressed and suicidal. It was easy to blame Facebook and Instagram. Better to blame a gadget than an individual or a cultural movement. 

Readers of this blog know that your humble blogger has never believed that social media was to blame.

Anyway, a new study from Brigham Young University has suggested that this viewpoint needs revision:

The amount of time teenagers spend on social media isn’t directly linked to an increase in anxiety or depression, says new research out of Brigham Young University.

For the study, which was published in the scientific journal Computers in Human Behavior, research leader Sarah Coyne, a professor at BYU, had 500 adolescents between 13 and 20 years old complete an annual questionnaire about their social media use and emotional well-being over the course of eight years.

“We are in the middle of a mental health crisis in the US, and social media and cellphones are often blamed,” Coyne tells The Post. Recent research suggests that mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, are on the rise for teens, and a sobering new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that suicide rates soared by 56% for Americans 10 and 24 years old between 2007 and 2017. “I wanted to look at long-term impact and look at it across teenagers’ adolescence to see what’s going on.”

Coyne, who has studied how media affects children and families for 20 years, was surprised by the findings.

“Like everyone else, you assume social media is the bad guy,” she says. After all, according to Common Sense Media, 70% of teenagers check social media multiple times daily, up from 34% in 2012 — and 27% of teens check it every hour.

But “we found pretty much no relation between time spent on social media and an increase in depression or anxiety in boys or girls,” Coyne says.

As for who is to blame for the spike in teenage depression, why not think that it has been caused by those who have diminished America’s national pride, who have considered our nation an organized criminal conspiracy, who have demeaned all of its accomplishments and who have intoned, to those who built the nation: "You didn’t build that?"

Note that the increase took place between 2007 and 2017. Now, which individual defined America’s culture during those years? Keep in mind, the antidote to despair is pride, not hope.

Don’t think too hard.

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