Millennials with broad social media use more likely to be depressed, study finds

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Use of multiple social media platforms was independently associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety among young adults when controlled for time spent on social media and compared to the use of fewer platforms, according to a new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

For the study, researchers surveyed 1,787 Americans ages 19 to 32 years. Participants were questioned about social media use and assessed for symptoms of depression and anxiety. An analysis of the survey results revealed participants who used 7 to 11 social media platforms had significantly higher odds for increased levels of depression and anxiety. These results held up even when controlled for total time spent using social media.

"This association is strong enough that clinicians could consider asking their patients with depression and anxiety about multiple platform use and counseling them that this use may be related to their symptoms," said lead author Brian Primack, MD, PhD, director of University of Pittsburgh's Center for Research on Media. "While we can't tell from this study whether depressed and anxious people seek out multiple platforms or whether something about using multiple platforms can lead to depression and anxiety, in either case the results are potentially valuable."

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