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Are Toxic, Hyper-Trauma Social Media Keeping You Distracted, Depressed And Sick?

Are Toxic, Hyper-Trauma Social Media Keeping You Distracted, Depressed And Sick?

Social Media

PHOTO: By Nathan Allotey on Unsplash

Heavy social media use has been linked to depression, anxiety, illness and lack of focus, according to several studies.

Users who took a one-week break from social media experienced reduced depression and anxiety, according to a study published on May 6, Bloomberg reported.

Researchers at the University of Bath followed 154 people age 18 to 72 who were split into two groups – one that stopped using social media for a week and a control group that scrolled social sites as usual.

The individuals who paused from social media reported decreased depression and anxiety.

“We know that social media usage is huge and that there are increasing concerns about its mental health effects, so with this study, we wanted to see whether simply asking people to take a week’s break could yield mental health benefits,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Jeff  Lambert.

“Many of our participants reported positive effects from being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall. This suggests that even just a small break can have an impact,” Lambert continued.

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A study from 2015 also shows problematic internet use (or internet addiction) can also have an impact on one’s physical health by weakening the immune system, Business Standard reported.

The study followed 500 people age 18 to 101 and found internet addiction among subjects was “strongly related to all of the other psychological variables such as depression, anxiety, social isolation, and sleep problems.”

The study showed that people with internet addictions were more sleep-deprived, ate less healthy, didn’t exercise as much and were more likely to drink alcohol and smoke. All of these things led to greater stress and decreased immune function as a result of altered levels of cortisol – a hormone that impacts immune function.

“We found that the impact of the internet on people’s health was independent of a range of other factors, like depression, sleep deprivation, and loneliness, which are associated with high levels of internet use and also with poor health,” said Professor Phil Reed of Swansea University.

The study found there was no difference in the impacts based on gender, aside from the fact that men and women use the internet for different things.

“It does not seem to matter what you use it for, if you use it too much you are more susceptible to illness. However, the mechanisms responsible for you getting ill may differ, depending on how you use the net,” Professor Roberto Truzoli from Milan University said.

Still another study showed how much of a distraction social media can be for users. “We refer to social media distraction as the phenomenon of social media cues (the distractors) drawing the attention away from the task at hand and directing it instead toward social media,” the study authors wrote. “Research has indicated that procrastination … is related to high social media use.”

PHOTO: By Nathan Allotey on Unsplash