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Facebook makes anxiety and depression worse

According to Tel Aviv University, Facebook has a negative impact on mental health. A new study is the first to establish a connection between use of the platform and anxiety and depression. This would make them much worse.

According to a study by Tel Aviv University, MIT Sloan School of Management and Bocconi University, Facebook has a negative impact on mental health. That comes from one common message of the three educational institutions. Accordingly, using the platform would worsen anxiety and depression.

While many studies have linked social media to mental health symptoms, it has been difficult to determine whether social media is actually the cause. Thanks to a new method, the researchers have now succeeded in proving such causality.

Does Facebook Make Anxiety and Depression Worse?

The study relies on data that go back to the early years and the introduction of Facebook at Harvard University in 2004. It wasn’t until two years later, in 2006, that the platform spread and took the internet and the general public by storm.

The researchers, in turn, analyzed the impact of Facebook on mental health by comparing colleges that had access to Facebook at the time with colleges that did not.

They found that the number of students who complained of depression and anxiety increased. Professor Luca Braghieri, co-author of the study, commented:

Over the past fifteen years, the mental health of adolescents and young adults in the United States has deteriorated significantly. Since this deterioration coincided with the advent of social media, it was suggested that these two phenomena might be related.

Social networks affect academic performance

For their analysis, the researchers combined different data sets. The specific data from the various colleges and a regular survey from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA). They then create an index based on 15 NCHA questions.

They found that psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression worsened significantly after the introduction of Facebook. According to this, seven percent more of the students stated that they had suffered from severe depression.

Facebook changes perception

20 percent more of those surveyed reported anxiety disorders or depression after the introduction of Facebook. These would also have adversely affected their academic performance.

The researchers indicated that their methodology also accounted for any differences in mental health over time that are not related to Facebook.

The data also indicates that the platform appears to have changed student perceptions. Study leader Roee Levy, Ph.D. at Tel Aviv University, said:

We also found evidence that Facebook has changed how students think about their peers. More students believed that others consumed more alcohol, although alcohol consumption had not changed significantly.

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