Is Social Media Addiction Making Us Less Happy?

A new study coming out next year for the 2017 journal 'Computers in Human Behavior' finds that social media users who frequent a large number of platforms, in the range of seven to eleven, were more likely to exhibit depression and anxiety. Though this would seem to be a pretty bad sign, it isn't readily apparent where the problem lies, or who exactly is more vulnerable to it.

In fact, the study notes that greater engagement on the platforms allows people to find communities of support they might not have ordinarily had.

Rather, the problem seems to stem from two big, but still not well-understood, factors. The first, an omnipresent one noted in other studies, is that "Hell is other people." That is, relationships themselves aren't the problem, but that our peers online are acting out "multiple roles that included imaginary audiences, judges, vicarious learning sources, and comparison targets," per another 'Computers in Human Behavior' report, on selfies and teens, compiled this year. Social media interactions can create unrealistic expectations that users feel anxious or depressed over because they know they cannot live up to them.

In fact, the people in those pictures aren?EU?t always living up to that perception. But we who are only seeing the cheery Instagram and Facebook end product, dubbed "edited self-presentation" by the authors, don?EU?t know that. (The study actually found that all of the participants were photoshopping their selfies to varying degrees.)

Hence, the common feeling that ?EU?all my friends are doing better than I am?EU? based on their digital photo albums. It is still unclear, however, if the research will show that people end up in these states because they?EU?re predisposed to such thinking, and the platforms reinforce it, or if it?EU?s the strain of keeping up with the Jonses (and Kardashians) that sends them down a...

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