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Excessive social media use leads to depression

Saturday, December 08, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: social media, depression, Facebook

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(NaturalNews) If you engage in many hours' worth of media consumption every day, or use multiple forms of media all at the same time on a regular basis, you could be making yourself prone to depression. These are the findings of a new study out of Michigan State University (MSU), which found that excessive media use, and especially media "multitasking," can lead to symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, the study, led by Mark Becker, an assistant professor of psychology at MSU, is hardly the first to have made a connection between media use and mental illness. However, after evaluating 319 individuals with varying degrees of media consumption, Becker and his team made some interesting new discoveries that had previously not been fully uncovered.

It has already been observed in earlier studies that excessive media use in general can lead to depression, particularly among teenagers (http://psychcentral.com). But the new study found that using multiple forms of media at the same time, whether that be typing on the computer with the television on in the background, or text messaging while also surfing the web, can also lead to health problems.

"We don't know whether the media multitasking is causing symptoms of depression and social anxiety, or if it's that people who are depressed and anxious are turning to media multitasking as a form of distraction from their problems," said Becker about the findings, which were a surprise to him. "Whatever the case, it's very important information to have."

Is Facebook destroying your life?

Particularly with so-called "social" media, which includes popular websites such as Facebook and Twitter, the erosion of true friendships and their replacement with shallow and oftentimes meaningless online connections is having a devastating impact on society, as the human need for real connection is becoming increasingly harder to find. In the absence of genuine relationships and love, having multiple media sources active and engaged at all times is the only way that some people can cope, but it can also lead to mental illness.

"If you are predisposed to anxiety it seems that the pressures from technology act as a tipping point, making people feel more insecure and more overwhelmed," said Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK, in response to a similar study conducted earlier this year with regards to social media and how most social media users believe sites like Facebook and Twitter have made their lives worse. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com)

Adding to this sentiment, Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen, author of the earlier study, noted that people who are anxious and socially insecure, typically use sites like Facebook more than others because they "find it easier to communicate via social media (rather) than face-to-face."

Sources for this article include:

http://msutoday.msu.edu

http://www.marketplace.org

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