New study finds Facebook unlikely to be a cause of clinical depression

Posted by Randy Shulman
July 11, 2012 1:57 PM |

Facebook's logo may be blue, but research just issued by the University of Wisconsin suggests that using the world's most popular social networking site will not turn you blue. Or, rather, your mood. Katherine Bindley at The Huffington Post, reports:

"People have looked at things like jealousy, and more transient moods or whatnot, but we really looked at clinical depression," Lauren Jelenchick, the lead author of the study, told The Huffington Post. "There was no relation between the amount of time [study participants] were on Facebook and their symptoms of depression."

The study, which was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, attempted to establish whether there was a relationship between social networking use and symptoms of depression.

No apparent link between Facebooking and plunging into a clinical depression was concretely discovered. And it pretty much directly countered a 2011 clinical study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, "looking at the impact of social media on adolescents [suggesting] Facebook could cause mental health issues, including depression.

Pysch Central's John M. Grohol took umbrage with the Academy's report, claiming that it failed "to take into account important nuances in the research it cited."

As an example, Grohol pointed out that one study which found a relationship between Facebook use and depression didn't mention that the link was found only among teens with low quality friendships. Those with high quality friendships were not affected by increased time spent on Facebook, according to that study.

Jelenchick said the undertaking of the University of Wisconsin study was in part the result of skepticism surrounding claims made in the Academy's report. She said didn't believe there was enough research to support a causal relationship between Facebook and symptoms of depression.

Going forward, she argues that researchers may need to look more at how people use Facebook -- instead of how much.

Next up: A study on whether or not playing Bejeweled Blitz causes finger cramps.

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