Throughout the United States, university professors and students spend hours conducting research and collecting data, in order to further help themselves understand the human mind and body. Research topics can range from youth obesity to medical advancements and cures, but recently, the majority of research has revolved around our transition into a technological world.
For millennials, technology is not a terrifying concept. Young adults and adolescents grew up with social media platforms such as facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, and even partook in earlier versions of these platforms such as Myspace and AIM. But for those not used to technology, there is much hesitancy with regards to transitioning towards a full-on technological world. Many universities are currently researching technology and social media’s impact on students’ physical and mental health, in order to learn more about the world that we are entering.
Two studies that focused on social media and depression were studies conducted by the University of Missouri (Mizzou), and the University of Pittsburgh. In 2015, Mizzou professors, Duffy and Edson Tandoc, studied the question: ‘If Facebook use causes envy, could depression follow?’ They studied a sample size of 736 students, all of whom were Facebook users. They asked each participant how they use Facebook, and asked them questions about their mental stability and happiness, in order to determine if they were depressed, or not. Researchers learned that Facebook can indeed make its users envious, and can thus make users depressed.
Duffy and Tandoc learned that what impacts a user’s mental health while on Facebook is based off of how they use the social media platform. For those who use Facebook as a way to keep tabs on an ex, or to compare their accomplishments to those of an old friend, then Facebook causes symptoms of depression. But when used to connect to old friends and peers in a different country, then Facebook does not trigger any feelings of envy and does cause depression.
In April of 2016, the University of Pittsburgh, also conducted research about depression and social media. The research team sampled 1,787 U.S. citizens between the ages of 19 and 32. Researchers asked each participant about their social media usage. They asked which platforms they use, how many hours a day they are on social media and how many hours a week each participant spends on different social media sites. The majority of the sample pool used social media 61 minutes a day, and visited different social media accounts 30 times a week.
A quarter of these participants showed high symptoms of depression, and according to Pittsburgh’s study, those who use social media more frequently are 2.7 times more likely to be depressed. This study also showed that those who visit social media sites on a daily basis have a 1.7 times larger chance of being depressed than those who interact on social media only a few times a week.
The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, also conducted a research project on technology and the effect technology has on youth’s health. UT Health studied 5,147 fifth graders and observed how their emotions were impacted depending on how often they played video games, and based on how violent each video game was.
The study was self-reported, meaning each fifth grader had to log their own video game usage and declare how violent they believed the game to be. The research showed that violent video games increase depression in preadolescence. The research also showed that those fifth graders who played violent video games for over two hours showed depressive symptoms.
Hundreds of universities conduct research throughout the semester, but technology is the most prominent topic to be researching for today’s youth and the older generation. As these studies show, no matter how much one believes they understand, and know, technology and social media, there is much more to be uncovered with regards to the advancements of the twenty-first century.