According to two new studies, using the social media site Facebook could lead to symptoms of depression.
The studies, which were conducted by the researchers from the University of Houston (UH), TX, and published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, state that spending copious amounts of time on Facebook is contributing to depression in some people.
Mai-Ly Steers, professor at the University of Houston, and the lead author of the studies, said, “It doesn’t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand.”
Facebook helps people to connect with their friends, but some people can start to feel inadequate and depressed if they start to feel their lives are not as rich or fulfilling as people on their list of friends.
For the first study, which had 180 participants, researchers found that for both men and women, time spent on Facebook was linked to depressive symptoms. However, the researchers found that making Facebook social comparisons was not high amongst men. In the second study, which had 152 participants, the researchers also found that the link between time spent on Facebook and depressive symptoms was affected by social comparisons, but this time there was no difference between men and women.
The researchers added that possible link between social comparisons and depressive symptoms exists and it has been the subject of many studies since the 1950s.
Researchers believe that Facebook users are most likely to post good news instead of bad news. Subsequently, when other users read the good news, they draw social comparisons and feel inadequate and depressed.
“Although social comparison processes have been examined at length in traditional contexts, the literature is only beginning to explore social comparisons in online social networking settings. You can’t really control the impulse to compare because you never know what your friends are going to post. If we’re comparing ourselves to our friends’ ‘highlight reels,’ this may lead us to think their lives are better than they actually are and conversely, make us feel worse about our own lives,” added Steers.