Controversial Results in the Association Between Depressive Symptoms and Social Media Usage

Amid the research investigating the connection between social media usage and depressive symptoms, a few studies reported no evidence linking social media sites and depression. A recent study investigated the relationships between reasons for Facebook use and psychological and mental health outcomes for a 3-year period in late adolescents, aged from 17 to 19 years. According to their results, none of the possible motivations, which were social connection, boredom, and information seeking, were correlated to depression at any stage of the experimental procedure (61). As for the short-term consequences of negative experiences on Facebook, online peer victimization is not predictive of increased depressive symptoms after 6 months (79). In addition, Fardouly and colleagues did not find differences between users and non- users of the most popular social media platforms (Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat) among Australian preadolescents in terms of depressive symptoms. Taken together, these results suggest that low mood derived from social media usage might be explained through different factors, such as worry about how youths appear on their preferred social networks sites and their tendency to compare their own image to someone else’s image (60). Finally, a longitudinal study by Szwedo and colleagues investigated the preference for Facebook and/or MySpace communication in a cohort of adolescents in relation to depressive symptoms, assessing the sample at the age of

13 (Time 1) and 20 (Time 2). Interestingly, higher depressive symptoms at Time 1 predicted a preference for communication via social media, but at Time 2, higher depressive symptoms were predictive of lesser online disclosure (23). This change in direction might be explained by the different ways, especially social withdrawal, through which depression is manifested in early adolescence and early adulthood. With regard to psychotic and non-psychotic mood disorders, social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter represent an initial avenue to seek help by diagnosed youths (29) and a potential base to examine depressive symptoms and perceived social support from online friends (80).

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