Using social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be beneficial to adult mental health. So says a study at Michigan State University (MSU) in the United States, published last week. While most social media research focuses on adolescents and young people, the MSU experiment used data from 13,000 people over 30 years of age. Research shows that Facebook users in this population are 63% less likely to have depression or anxiety than adults who don't use social media.
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MSU study indicates that social media use in adults over 30 may be good for mental health Photo: Nicolly Vimercate / dnetc
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For Keith Hampton, professor of media and information at the front of the study, the results can be explained by the ease of communication these media enable. Platforms help maintain relationships with both friends and distant family members. He also points out that social media contribute to access to information related to mental health, which would further encourage adults to ask for help when they feel they may develop psychological problems. Data analysis showed that adults using Facebook were 1.63 times more likely to avoid a mental problem than non-users.
The result of the study has been perplexing researchers, because it goes against other research that linked the use of social networks to increased cases of depression and anxiety. The difference, as the researcher explains, is the result of cutting out data in a higher age range. However, he also believes that cases of depression in adolescents and young people who were being associated with the use of social networks may actually have other causes.
Research concludes that Facebook and social networks are not solely responsible for youth anxiety Photo: Nicolly Vimercate / dnetc
"Observing the current anxiety of young people and concluding that an entire generation is at risk because of social media ignores more remarkable social changes, such as the lingering effects of the Great Recess, the increase in families with single children, older and protective parents, and more. young people going to college and increasing student debt, "Hampton said in an interview with the British Daily Mail.
In his study published in Journal of Computer Mediated-CommunicationHampton focused on more mature populations, analyzing data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the world's oldest household survey, with five decades of data collected on the same families and their descendants. The survey used data from 2015 and 2016, which included a series of questions about the use of communication technologies and psychological distress.
Many polls accuse social networks of worsening mood of users Photo: Helito Beggiora / dnetc
Studies differ on the influence of social networks on mental health
Even though the MSU study shows positive results from using social networks for users' mental health, the discussion is still large. A survey by the Royal Society for Public Healthy (RSPH) shows that anxiety and depression in young people have a 70% higher incidence today than 25 years ago.
RSPH researchers believe that social networks play an important role in this increase, feeding unrealistic expectations and feelings of inadequacy. They also underscore the addictive character of hammocks, which can lead to sleep disorders. The researchers' analysis showed that Instagram was the network that most influenced anxiety and depression cases.
The effect of social networks on well-being is unknown: Photo: Tainah Tavares / dnetc
Another University College of London (UCL) survey of 11,000 young people in the UK shows that about 38% of users overuse their networks, with more than five hours a day. The study also points out that girls are twice as likely to develop mental problems than boys when using social media. In addition to spending more time on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, they are most affected by online harassment and body image distortion due to the aesthetic standards adopted on the networks.
Amid constant criticism, Facebook recognized in 2017 that the use of social media could be bad for users' mental health. However, in their blog post on the subject, company research director David Ginsberg and researcher Moira Burke argued that using Facebook can also have positive impacts on mental health.
Ginsberg and Burke stated that actively interacting with people, especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and remembering past interactions is linked to well-being improvements. MSU research argues in favor of this analysis.
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