The introduction of Facebook in American colleges led to a 9% increase in depression and a 12% increase in generalized anxiety disorder among college students, according to a study by Luca Braghieri and colleagues. The likely cause: unfavorable social comparisons.
Luca Braghieri (Bocconi Department of Decision Sciences), in an article with Ro’ee Levy (Tel Aviv University) and Alexey Makarin (MIT Sloan School of Management), observed a causal effect of Facebook use on the deterioration of young people’s mental health. , coming soon American Economic Review.
Other scientists had already noted that the mental health of adolescents and young adults in the United States deteriorated as social media gained popularity in the mid-2000s, but the cause had not yet been discovered.
Facebook was founded at Harvard in February 2004 but only opened to the general public in September 2006. Between February 2004 and September 2006, Facebook was phased into US colleges. Using a dataset that included data on Facebook adoption at 775 US colleges and responses to seventeen consecutive waves of the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), a comprehensive survey of college students’ mental and physical health, the authors estimated an average Trend in Mental Health Health Issues in American Colleges and Observed How Students at Each College Deviated from the Trend Following the Adoption of Facebook.
Braghieri, Levy, and Makarin estimated that Facebook was responsible for a 9% increase in depression and a 12% increase in generalized anxiety disorder. According to such estimates, Facebook can be attributed to almost a quarter of the increase in major depression recorded among American college students between 2000 and 2019.
“Just to put things in perspective,” Braghieri said, “such an effect is about 20% equivalent to the effect of losing a job due to symptoms of poor mental health.”
In the short to medium term, the negative impact of Facebook on mental health has been found to increase with the duration of use of the platform.
Additional evidence suggests that the mechanism leading to poorer mental health from Facebook use is an increase in unfavorable (and sometimes misleading) social comparisons. The impact is particularly pronounced for students who may already view themselves as disadvantaged compared to their peers, such as students living off campus—and therefore more likely to be excluded from social activities on campus—students with lower socioeconomic status and students who who do not belong to a fraternity/sisterhood.
Braghieri added that “a degree of naivety in processing social media information can exacerbate the impact of comparisons, as students do not always realize that the reality shown on social media is a curated rather than a representative representation of the.” life of their colleagues”.
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Luca Braghieri et al., Social Media and Mental Health. American Economic Review (2022). DOI: 10.1257/aer.20211218 www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10. … /aer.20211218&from=f
Provided by Bocconi University
Citation: Social Media Use Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health (2022 October 19) Retrieved October 19, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-10-social-media-hazardous-mental-health .html
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