You see it everywhere: people glued to their electronic devices, studying the latest status updates of distant high school friends and third cousins. Social media has become engrained in our lives, with 74 percent of Facebook users reporting that they visit the site every day.
But are there hidden dangers behind this seemingly harmless scrolling? New research links excessive social media use to several serious health effects, including disruption of sleeping patterns and depression.
Texas State University researchers studied 500 college students who were active on at least one social media platform. Those who fit the criteria for major depressive disorder scored significantly higher on a social media addiction scale and were more likely to admit comparing themselves with others on social media.
The study also found that people with depression had fewer followers on platforms such as Instagram, and that people with depression were much more likely to be bothered if they were tagged in an unflattering photo on social media.
Previous research has shown excessive social media use can create relationship woes and feelings of isolation, and can even lead to less satisfaction with life overall. The dawning of the digital age, it seems, has ushered in a new type of addiction that is more complex than the vices of previous generations.
Luckily, breaking this addiction involves simple steps and old-fashioned willpower. Making access to social media more difficult or finding other ways to occupy free time can be easy lifestyle changes that can lower the amount of time spent scrolling.
So, for the sake of your mental health, it’s time to rethink just how many selfies you really need.