The increasing use of social media has always been associated with the deteriorating mental health of the young generation. But take heart, as social media use may not affect mental health, says a new research.
The study found no evidence supporting the view that the amount of time spent on social media increases mental health problems, such as loneliness, decreased empathy and social anxiety.
Instead, some people tend to use the media platform to encourage a moral panic — a process whereby panic or fear is being created among the masses over an issue — to create a situation of interest, said the researchers.
“We do not deny the potential for some online behaviours to be associated with mental health problems. But the research focuses on the behaviour of individuals rather than assuming social media to be the root cause of all socio-personal problems,” explained Chloe Berryman, researcher at the University of Florida in the US.
The researchers surveyed youngsters by questioning them over their responses towards the media platforms, social relationships and whether they were mentally affected by some incidents.
The study, published in the journal Psychiatric Quarterly, found that the only concerned part was to do with vaguebooking or social media posts that contain little actual and clear information, but written in such a way as to solicit attention and concern from potential readers.
Young people who tended to often write such posts were found to be lonelier and had more suicidal thoughts than others.
“Vaguebooking was slightly predictive of suicidal ideation, suggesting this particular behaviour could be a warning sign for serious issues,” said Berryman.
“It is therefore possible that some forms of social media use may function as a ‘cry for help’ among individuals with pre-existing mental health problems.”