Social networks and the Internet could improve mental health in adults

According to a study by Michigan State University, these tools help to avoid depression and anxiety in people in adulthood

The regular use of social networks and the Internet, contrary to what is commonly thought, could improve mental health in adults as well as helping to avoid serious psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, according to a new study from the Michigan State University (United States).

Communication technologies and social media platforms facilitate the maintenance of relationships and access to health information, which could explain this effect, says Keith Hampton, professor of media and information at Michigan State University.

The expert explains that the “bad reputation” of social networks is simply because until now adults have not been the focus of much research on the subject, while most studies on social networks have focused on young people and university students. So the effects could be explained by the different stages of life and not by the use that is made of technology.

Therefore, Hampton set out to study more mature populations and analyze data from more than 13,000 relationships of adult participants in the United States Revenue Dynamics Panel Study, the oldest household survey in the world. He used data from 2015 and 2016 that included a series of questions about the use of communication technologies and psychological disorders.

He found that social network users are 63% less likely to experience severe psychological distress from one year to the next, including major depression or severe anxiety. Having extended family members in social networks further reduced psychological distress, as long as the mental health of family members did not decrease.

The study, published in the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, also concludes that someone who uses a social networking site is 1.63 times more likely to avoid serious psychological problems, although the degree to which communication technologies affect the psychological distress varies according to the type and quantity of technologies used by people and their families.

Changes in the mental health of family members affect the psychological distress experienced by other family members, but only if both members are connected to a social network. “Currently, we have these small pieces of information in progress on our cell phones, and that continuous contact can be important for things like mental health,” Hampton concludes.

Source: DobleLlave

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