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Just How Antisocial Is Social Media?

Just How Antisocial Is Social Media?

Auntie Social is a columnist in the Irish Examiner who focuses on social media marketing, but we bet “she” never imagined that her world of Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter would become, well, so antisocial for some folks. 

From nasty, shaming Tweets to the stress and anxiety that overwhelms teens with too many Facebook friends (there’s pressure to stay up with it all and make sure you’re as popular as ever), we’ve long warned that obsessing with social media can make users feel isolated, unliked, and angry. And now a large study out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine reveals the more time 19-32 year olds spend on line, the more depressed they are. In fact, those who checked social media most frequently were almost three times more likely to be depressed as those who checked it least often.

So which came first -- Snapchat or depression? That’s uncertain, say the researchers. But what is certain is that parents need to help teens moderate their social media use; plan family outings; encourage friends to stop over; put aside an hour (or more) a day without gadgets (yes, turn off the Internet). Young adults need to be aware of their electronic link to feeling bad.

Sunshine, fresh air, face-to-face time with friends and family, regular exercise -- hey, maybe all at once! -- are also keys to dodging and easing social-media-related depression.  And often talk therapy and medication are enormously effective when helping a person reclaim their (real world) social life.  

Medically reviewed in June 2018.

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