Social Media benefits mental health, fends off serious psychological distress

Updated: July 17, 2019 5:49:33 PM

Social media platforms and communication tools make it easier to maintain relationships and access health information online too.

Social MediaSocial media use can fend off serious psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety

By Pooja Priyamvada

In a huge blow to the popularly held belief, in a study, published in the Journal of Computer Mediated-Communication, it has now been found that using social media and the internet on a regular basis could improve mental health among adults. A study has found that social media use can fend off serious psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety, especially feelings of isolation.

The latest research at Michigan State University in the US, social media platforms and communication tools make it easier to maintain relationships and access health information online too. Until now, adults have not been considered in research on the mental health influences of social media use. Most studies on social media focus on youth and college students so far.

The study concluded based on data that it is 63% less likely for adult social media users to be in psychological distress from one year to the next, including major depression or serious anxiety. If you have extended family members on social media platforms it is further beneficial in reducing this psychological distress, provided the family member’s mental health is not suffering.

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The research findings indicate that someone using a social networking site is 1.63 times more likely to avoid serious mental distress.

Various communication technologies affect psychological distress as per the kind and quantity of these technologies being used by adults and their family members.

Social media benefits people by enabling them to improve their communication skills and social connections. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and apps like Whatsapp allow people to make new connections, exchange ideas and develop new interests. It also allows adults to explore and experiment with new forms of self-expression that were not known to them while growing up say three decades ago.

Most adults now use social media to build on social communication and friendships started at school/college or other interests and extend these to the online world, it helps in promoting a sense of belonging. Social media thus might not be a complete monster but an effective tool for adults that can be used for valuable learning and connectivity.

(Pooja Priyamvada is an avid blogger and social media enthusiast. Views expressed are the author’s own.)

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