According to a new study from the University of Missouri, users of Facebook can experience serious envy and depression when using the site:
“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 [professor at UM] 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.”
According to the study, people who engage in “surveillance use” (I’d explain what that means, but come on, you know exactly what it means) are the ones who are most likely to suffer depressive symptoms; however, those who use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family are just fine. In other words, it all goes into your intentions for social media use; stalking makes you depressed, keeping in touch is just fine.
The findings of this study are certainly in line with others, which have found that Facebook can reduce self-esteem, increase depression and exacerbate other emotional problems. However, it’s important to note that Facebook can also make you happy; a recent survey found that seniors who used Facebook were happier, felt more confident and more sociable after internet use.
As always, social media isn’t the problem: it comes down to how you use it. If you are using social media and are insecure or worried, your already existing problems will be exacerbated. If you are confident in yourself, social media can be a positive. In other words, social media isn’t the problem: it comes down to the individual person and their overall mental health.