Negative vs. Positive Social Media Experiences and Depressive Symptoms

Posted on June 19, 2018

Negative experiences on social media carry more weight than positive interactions when it comes to the likelihood of young adults reporting depressive symptoms. According to lead author Brian Primack, M.D., Ph.D., positive experiences on social media were not related or only very slightly linked to lower depressive symptoms. However, negative experiences were strongly and consistently associated with higher depressive symptoms.

In August 2016, researchers surveyed 1,179 full-time students ages 18 to 30 at the University of West Virginia about their social media use and experiences. The participants also completed a questionnaire to assess their depressive symptoms. Each 10 percent increase in positive experiences on social media was associated with a 4 percent decrease in odds of depressive symptoms, but those results were not statistically significant, meaning that the finding could be due to random chance. However, each 10 percent increase in negative experiences was associated with a 20 percent increase in the odds of depressive symptoms, a statistically significant finding.

Other characteristics also were linked to the participants having depressive symptoms. For example, compared with men, women had 50 percent higher odds of having depressive symptoms. Identifying as non-white and having only completed "some college," rather than completing a degree, also were associated with higher odds of depressive symptoms. All of these characteristics have previously been shown to increase a person's likelihood of depression.

These findings may be useful for designing interventions and clinical recommendations to reduce the risk of depression. Moving forward, these results could assist scientists in developing ways to intervene and counter the negative effects while strengthening the positive ones.


Category(s):Depression

Source material from Science Daily


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