The True Effect on Mental Wellbeing
Heffer’s study focused on two separate groups. The first was made up of almost 600 adolescents between the sixth and eighth grades in Ontario, Canada. The second comprised over 1,100 undergraduate students.
The younger group was surveyed once per year for two years, while the older students were surveyed annually from their first university year, and for a total of six years.
The research looked at how much time participants spent on social media on weekdays and weekends. Time spent on activities like watching TV, doing homework, and exercising, also came under scrutiny.
Heffer’s team then considered depression symptoms using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. A similar, but more age-appropriate version of the scale, was applied to the younger group.
Researchers separated the resulting data into age and sex. The findings, published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal, revealed that the use of social media did not lead to symptoms of depression later on, in either group of participants.
Scientists also found that higher depression symptoms in adolescent females predicted later use of social media. Heffer attributes this to the tendency of relatively insecure females of that age to turn to social media in an attempt to feel better about themselves.