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Millennials' social media activity may increase risk of depression

Jayme Blaschke | January 10, 2019

adults

A new study by a team of Texas State University researchers shows that negative social media behaviors are linked to major depressive disorder (MDD) in Millennials.

The findings, "Social comparisons, social media addiction, and social interaction: An examination of specific social media behaviors related to major depressive disorder in a millennial population," are published in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research. The paper may be found online at https://doi.org/10.1111/jabr.12158.

In the study of 504 Millennials who actively use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or Snapchat, individuals who met the criteria for MDD scored higher on the Social Media Addiction scale, were more likely to compare themselves to others better off than they were, and indicated that they would be more bothered by being tagged in unflattering pictures. Regarding social interactions, those with MDD were less likely to post pictures of themselves along with other people and reported fewer followers.

"While this study highlights social media behaviors that are associated with major depression, it is important to recognize that social media use can offer many positive benefits, including fostering social support,” said co-author Krista Howard, of the Department of Psychology. “The key is for individuals to develop an awareness of how they currently use social media and to determine what changes could be made in their social media use to reduce the behaviors associated with psychological distress. Some changes could include reducing the time spent on social media, unfollowing individuals or groups that cause distress, or limiting online social comparisons.”

Anthony Robinson, of the Department of Psychology, was lead author on the study. In addition to Howard, other team members were Aaron Bonnette and Natalie Ceballos, of the Department of Psychology, Stephanie Dailey, of the Department of Communication Studies, Yongmei Lu, of the Department of Geography, and Tom Grimes, of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922