**Who among us is addicted to social media? Perhaps a better question is, who among us isn't? It feels like every day there are negative stories about social media in the news, stories that carry the sole purpose of putting us off the time we spend scrolling. Here's another one. A US study is claiming that more than 2 hours of social media use a day (and let's be honest, who is using it for less than that) doubled the chances of a person experiencing social isolation. The study claims that exposure to idealised representations of other people's lives may cause feelings of envy; it looked at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. However, it did acknowledge that social media isn't necessarily the reason for these feelings - it only enhances emotions you may already be experiencing. One theory is that the more time we spend online, the less we have to hang out with people IRL - and the more left out we feel when we see photos of them together.
However. There is some good news, as another study by Drexel University has found that some social media use can actually be a really positive thing for users already suffering from mental health issues. The study looked through the depression tag on Instagram, and found that 'emotional support and esteem support, which includes comments such as, ‘you are strong and beautiful,’ were the most prevalent types of supportive comments. In fact, posts about eating disorders or appearance concerns attracted significantly more comments with esteem support, likely boosting the self-esteem of the poster.' So heavy social media usage can both make you feel isolated and supported, depending on how you use it and your own mental state.
Of course, as always, if you are having serious issues you should reach out to a professional or a helpline.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.