health

The common social media habit that's putting your mental health at risk.

In case the deflated feeling you get from scrolling through your Instagram feed for the umpteenth time wasn’t enough of an indication, there’s also a growing body of research linking bad social media habits with poor mental health outcomes.

For the most part, it’s nothing new. We know a constant diet of filtered photos and hash-brags will eventually starve us of our self-esteem. Duh.

We also know that increased time online has broadly been associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety, particularly among young people.

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What remains unclear is how specific behaviours can worsen the effects of social media on our mental wellbeing and therefore which bad habits we should be kicking first.

A new study of more than 1,700 millennials from University of Pittsburgh’s Centre for Research on Media, Technology and Health has found the more platforms you’re on, the more likely you are to experience depression and anxiety.

Specifically, if you use between seven and 11 different social media sites everyday, you’re actually three times more likely to have depression and anxiety than someone on two our less, according to the research.

The stuff of nightmares. Image via iStock

But a link doesn't necessarily prove a cause, as the researchers have acknowledged.

For example, people who are already depressed and anxious might find themselves seeking affirmation from multiple social media sources.

The lead author of the study Brian A. Primack explained the phenomenon to The Daily Dot:

"It may be that people who suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety, or both, tend to subsequently use a broader range of social media outlets. For example, they may be searching out multiple avenues for a setting that feels comfortable and accepting. However, it could also be that trying to maintain a presence on multiple platforms may actually lead to depression and anxiety. More research will be needed to tease that apart."

Obviously there a positives that come with being constantly connected to your peers, but if you're a Facebook using, brekky-gramming, Snapchatter with you own YouTube channel who can't have a snarky thought without tweeting it to the world, it probably wouldn't hurt to cut back a smidge.

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