Heavy Facebook Use May Lead to Depression

Quick question and be honest, how many times have you checked Facebook today? We all know we're on it all day, from the moment we wake up and hit the pillow at night. The question remains, is all this Facebook time good for us? 

A new study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology is saying not really. 


Facebook Overuse Enhances Social Comparison

Researchers found a correlation between the amount of time spent on Facebook by most people had less to do with connecting with family and friends but more about comparing. Facebook gives us information about friends we usually aren't aware of; this creates an opportunity to socially compare.

This type of “social comparison” coupled with heavy use of Facebook was linked to symptoms of depression.

The lead researcher was quoted: "This doesn't mean Facebook causes depression but that depressed feelings plus many hours on Facebook comparing oneself may have a connection."

Two studies analyzed Facebook habits and depression symptoms in over 300 people. Researchers say for those already distressed and experiencing emotional problems, Facebook may increase feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Typically research on social comparison looks at two factors

  • Upward social comparison: compare to socially superior people
  • Downward social comparison: compare to socially inferior

Facebook Linked To Depression

With over 1.4 billion monthly active users, it's safe to say Facebook has most everyone's attention. It is a coincidence that women between the ages 25-34 are the most active  and the median age for when depression hits is 34? Depression also occurs in women more than men.



Heavy Tech Use Linked Fatigue, Stress and Depression in Young Adults

A key study from 2012 showed artificial light from TV and computer screens affects melatonin levels which affects one's sleep schedule. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep. The light was shown to throw off circadian rhythms, preventing deep, restorative sleep. 

Researchers analyzed:

  • 4,100 young adults between ages 20-24
  • Intensive use of cell phones and computers can be linked to an increase in stress, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms in young adults

Regular, late night computer use was associated with sleep disorders, stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women. Frequently using a computer without breaks further increased the risk of stress, sleeping problems and depressive symptoms in women.

A study published in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking showed a connection between sleep, technology and depression/anxiety

  • Analyzed college students and technology as important variable that impacts sleep quality and quantity
  • Results revealed 47% of students reported night-time waking to answer text messages and 40% to answer phone calls
  • Analyses indicated that higher levels of tech use after onset of sleep predicted poorer sleep quality which predicts symptoms of depression/anxiety

Too Much Tech?

With the increasing use of technology in our lives, perhaps a solution would be more public health advice around these devices and platforms should include information promoting a “healthy use of technology.” While technology can bring us closer, it's important to understand its effects. 

Some medical experts have even proposed tech companies carry warning messages on their products and in advertisements similar to cigarettes such as:

  • “Text responsibly”
  • “Don’t surf, then sleep”

Tech Tips For Your Health

1.      Turn tech off and focus on getting a full night’s sleep

2.      Take frequent breaks when you’re on the computer for any length of time

3.      Move tech out of your bedroom

4.      Don’t watch TV or surf the web too close to bedtime

5.      Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night

6.      Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends