Justin Bieber Returns with New Instagram Account
SOCIAL media has been linked to depression in young adults, but recent research shows spending time on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook can be beneficial.
According to a study conducted by the University of Melbourne, social media can help people who suffer from anxiety and those who feel socially disconnected.
Senior lecturer in psychology Dr Peggy Kern told ABC TV that she learned from over 70 studies into the subject and her own research that social media can have some mental health benefits.
“We found that for some people, it actually was very beneficial; people reported feeling socially connected to others,” she said.
“There was an interesting finding that those with social anxiety actually seemed to benefit from
being able to connect in a way that is less anxiety-provoking.”
Dr Kern reviewed studies that were conducted between 2005 and 2016. The studies investigated how social media use related to depression, anxiety, and personal wellbeing. The studies examined how much time people spent on social media, how many friends they had and if they felt liked or accepted by their friends or otherwise.
The studies also looked into what personal information users shared, if they compared themselves to others and if they felt addicted to social media. According to the study, the number of hours people spent on social media did not make a clear difference.
The study found social media could also be used to identify those with mental health issues.
“Both in terms of identifying people who might be struggling with depression and anxiety and things like that, and actually using some of the same tools that are there to change some of those behaviours,” Dr Kern said.
“Whether it’s actually changing some of the language they use, helping support them, so connecting them up with friends who might not even realise they are struggling, and then also giving triggers to say, ‘Get off line now. Go do something else.’”
RELATED: Social media posts reflect your mental state
However Dr Kern warned social media could bring out an envious streak in users.
“One thing we saw is envy, something really, really dangerous, if you find yourself jealous of others … ‘They all have the glamorous life and my life is terrible’ … that might be a problem.
“Those who struggle with depression are using negative language, criticising themselves, criticising others, whether we see it within ourself or see it in friends.”
“I’ve noticed that some of my friends, the positive ones and some (who) are struggling a bit.
“You are feeling down, you might start obsessively using Facebook and things like that, that can bring you down and that can become a spiral from there.”
Social media is obviously here to stay and Dr Kern did say it was now a crucial means of communication.
“That is the other striking thing that we saw, is that a lot of people do find it is a way of connecting,” she said
“I have lots of friends in the (United) States and it lets me find out what they’re doing and stay up to date on them.
“It is a way that we can socially connect, especially when we can’t actually get together face-to-face.”