New research suggests that using more social networks can increase risk of depression and anxiety.
The paper, “Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety,” shows people using seven or more social media platforms had three times the risk of depression and anxiety than those using two or fewer platforms—even after adjusting for net time spent on social media.
The report, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, did have trouble pegging down the exact causes, however, but had a few suggestions. Excessive multitasking, which may be necessary to keep up to date with several platforms, is generally linked to poor mental health. It could also create a larger false need to “keep up with the Joneses” by constantly observing idealized lifestyle highlights and comparing it with one’s own life.
“Understanding the way people are using multiple social media platforms and their experiences within those platforms—as well as the specific type of depression and anxiety that social media users experience—are critical next steps,” coauthor and psychiatrist César G. Escobar-Viera, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Pittsburgh’s Health Policy Institute, told Futurity. “It may be that people who suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety, or both, tend to subsequently use a broader range of social media outlets. However, it could also be that trying to maintain a presence on multiple platforms may actually lead to depression and anxiety.”
The social networks the study looked at were Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram.