Always on social media? A recent study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, revealed that participants who limited their time on three social media sites – Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – for three weeks showed significant reduction in depression and loneliness compared to the group that did not.
This is not the first study to suggest that addiction to social media is directly linked to depression and other mental health issues, says consultant psychiatrist Dr Muhammad Najib Mohd Alwi. He however believes that social media is very addictive regardless if someone is depressed or not, and it is up to the person to limit their dependency on such platforms.
What are you browsing online?
“Many people in the current day and time, can’t live normal lives without having their smartphones always within reach. We need to be more concerned about what people actually browse online when they are depressed. I tend to be very worried when my patients tell me that they’re fascinated with horrific websites suggesting easy or effective ways to commit suicide, or if they watch videos with grim endings,” he said.
Muhammad Najib suggests that the adage “prevention is better than cure” clearly suits the situation here. “Anything in excess is never good, and so it is when it comes to social media. We need to start by educating children at an early stage on how to limit their time on gadgets, and introduce more healthy ways to socialise and engage with people in real life.
The advice applies to adults as well, he said. If you cannot stop using social media, then gradually reduce the time spent on it. Often it takes a lot of discipline, but it can be done said Dr Muhammad Najib.
Swipe right for tips on how to do a social media detox.