A new study from the University of Pittsburgh has demonstrated a parallel between the amount of time or frequency with which young adults use social media and the likelihood that they are depressed.
Participants in the study reported how many times they visited a variety of social media sites per week and the amount of time they spent on such sites on average each day. Both those who reported more social media visits per week and more time per day reported higher levels of depressive symptoms.
However, as Lui yi Lin, the study’s primary author, cautions, “it may be that people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void” rather than social media causing depression. This is because the study gathered data at only one point in time, and so it "does not disentangle cause and effect.” (ScienceDaily) To establish that one measured variable causes another, the first must precede the second, among other requirements.
The social media sites whose use the researchers measured included “Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.” (ScienceDaily)