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Study Finds The Link Between Number Of Social Media Platforms Used And The Chance Of Depression. Results Are Stunning

Study Finds The Link Between Number Of Social Media Platforms Used And The Chance Of Depression. Results Are Stunning

The dark side of social media?

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can definitely be used for the power of good. They allow us to keep in touch with friends, keep up with current affairs, grow our professional networks, and have fun. Unfortunately, research suggests that using multiple social networks carries with it an elevated risk of depression and anxiety. Recent findings show that young adults should think carefully about their social media use, not just in terms of how many hours per day they spend online, but also how many platforms they incorporate into their digital life.

The research

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health (CRMTH) released a report in the journal, Computers in Human Behavior[1] outlining some intriguing links between social media use and mental health. The objective of the study was to establish whether the number of platforms a person uses has an effect on their mental health, independent of the total amount of time they spend online in a typical day.

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The study protocol was simple. Questionnaires measuring symptoms of anxiety and depression were administered to 1,787 adults between the ages of 19 and 32. The participants were also asked to report their social media habits including the frequency with which they used various social media platforms and how many profiles they maintained across 11 of the most popular social media sites.

The results

Compared to participants who used between zero and two social media sites, those who used between seven and eleven were three times more likely to show symptoms of depression and anxiety. This finding persisted even when the researchers took into account other variables known to affect anxiety and depression such as total time spent on social media, gender, and relationship status.

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What does this mean for social media users?

At the moment, we cannot know for certain why people who use more social media platforms appear to have a higher risk of mental distress. Brian A. Primack, leader of this study, has cautioned that there could be multiple reasons for this apparent link.[2]

One reason is that multi-tasking increases the risk of cognitive dysfunction and poor mental health, and those who use multiple platforms at the same time may be falling victim to this effect. Although multi-tasking may appear to be an efficient means of working, the end result is that multi-taskers suffer a drop in productivity and overall wellbeing.

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Another possible explanation is that because every platform has a distinct set of rules and unwritten code of conduct, attempting to maintain an appropriate presence on each could result in stress and negative emotions. A post that is entirely appropriate for one type of platform may not be so well-received on another, and it may be hard to adjust one’s persona to suit every site.

Finally, the more social media platforms an individual uses, the more vulnerable they are to committing social sins and getting into confrontations with others. This could lead to problems in close relationships, which may in turn cause stress and anxiety.

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However, more research is needed to explain this association. In the meantime, findings like this are important proof that our online activities have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing. With social media use more common than ever before, keeping our internet use within sensible parameters is a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you find that maintaining several profiles is causing you to feel stressed or depressed, why not try cutting back on the number of social media platforms you use? Taking the decision to focus only on one or two sites may be a smart move as far as your mental health is concerned.

Reference

More by this author

Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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