Social Media Multitasking Leads to Depression

Have you ever worried about the way social media interacts with you? Sure, the average America spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, and using social media, but have you ever thought of how this effects our generation?

54 percent of survey respondents said they have tried to decrease their reliance on technology, but studies showed that in fact, usage went up. This constitutes 14% of our week! Think about all the human contact that is lost by way of an average of five hours per week spent on Facebook, four hours on YouTube, and rising interest in other platforms.

Mark Becker from Michigan State University just published his findings on social media and multitasking in “Running Head: Multitasking, Depression, and Anxiety.” He outlines in his abstract:

“Regression analyses revealed that increased media multitasking was associated with higher depression and social anxiety symptoms, even after controlling for overall media use and the personality traits of neuroticism and extraversion. The unique association between media multitasking and these measures of psychosocial dysfunction suggest that the growing trend of multitasking with media may represent a unique risk factor for mental health problems related to mood and anxiety.”

For me, I see social media as a good way to keep in touch with, and out of touch with, old buddies. It is scary when I run into an old school friend and inadvertently I know exactly what they have been up to. I know where they traveled, which concerts they saw, who they are dating, and ect. All of this without a single human interaction. Is this a relationship? Of sorts, I suppose. But, this stream of data has lost touch with what matters. I have over 1,400 Facebook friends and yet I probably only care about 100. Or even saw 75 of them in the past year. Facebook has become a site to receive a personal ego boost for each photo and “clever” comment you post.

Would you post something which you didn’t expect to be rewarded with a showering of “likes” from your friends? I had a discussion on the bus the other day about this. The guy I was talking to said he always judged his posts by how many interactions he got. If nobody liked his post, then he would take it down, disappointed in the lack of attention. I know that when I have over a certain amount of  likes, I get a little boost in my stride. But is it all a popularity contest about bragging and public appreciation?

At times, I am able to reconnect with friends across the globe and in these instances, I think that FB still holds value. But I am not surprised at all that social media usage is causing depression and multitasking may lead to greater health risks.

If we continue to increase our daily consumption of social media, then our lives become diminished by lack of interaction with the real world. I think that in the future there will need to be help for those whose lives are not lived in the physical world. Afterall, who do you know that posts unattractive representations of themselves? Online is not real, nor is it a good place for one’s self esteem. The real world is wonderfully, chaotically unedited. Be a part of it.