Facebook is not that bad, may kill depression in adults

New York: If you use a social networking site like Facebook, you are 1.63 times more likely to avoid serious psychological distress such as depression and anxiety, find researchers.

Using social media apps like Facebook does have its own advantages, and one such positive outcome is improving mental health among adults.

According to a Michigan State University study, using social media and the Internet regularly could improve mental health among adults and help fend off serious psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety.

“Communication technologies and social media platforms make it easier to maintain relationships and access health information, which could explain it,” said Keith Hampton, professor of media and information at the Michigan State University.

To reach this conclusion, Hampton set out to study more mature populations, analyzing data from more than 13,000 relationships from adult participants in the “Panel Study of Income Dynamics” — the world’s longest-running household survey.

He found social media users are 63 per cent less likely to experience serious psychological distress from one year to the next, including major depression or serious anxiety.

The study, published in the Journal of Computer Mediated-Communication, challenges the notion that social media, mobile technologies and the Internet contribute to a mental health crisis.

“Because until now, adults haven’t been the focus of much research on the subject,” Hampton said.

Instead, most studies on social media have focused on youth and college students, and the effects could be explained by life stages, rather than technology use.

Taking a snapshot of the anxiety felt by young people today and concluding that a whole generation is at risk because of social media ignores more noteworthy social changes, such as the lingering effects of the Great Recession, the rise in single child families, older and more protective parents, more kids going to college and rising student debt,” Hampton explained.

Changes to the mental health of family members affect the psychological distress experienced by other family, but only if both family members are connected on a social networking site.

“Today, we have these ongoing, little bits of information popping up on our cell phones and Facebook feeds, and that ongoing contact might matter for things like mental health,” Hampton said.