Is Facebook linked to depression?

Since its inception, several studies have condemned Facebook for its negative impact on society, with one study even suggesting that networking site was making its users sad. But a new research alleges there is no solid proof of a link between using the social network and depression.

Last year, the authors of the paper, titled “Misery Has More Company Than People Think,” claimed that the constant barrage of positive depictions were making people feel inadequate, thus leading to depression.

Led by Alexander Jordan, who at the time was a Ph.D. student in Stanford’s psychology department, said the research showed that people consistently underestimate how often other people have negative emotions, while overestimating how often they have positive ones.

Jordan noted that since everybody’s Facebook news feed is deluded with positivity, it has resulted in people thinking that “they are more alone in their emotional difficulties than they really are.”

But a new study from the University of Wisconsin is now insinuating that there isn’t much to “like” about previous studies such as Jordan’s research.

After surveying 190 students between the ages of 18 and 23, meticulously recording their online habits in real-time — with their moods evaluated by a validated, clinical screening method for depression, Lauren Jelenchick and Megan Moreno claim to have produced the first evidence that refutes the supposed link between depression and the amount of time spent on social networking sites like Facebook.

Looking at the data — and paying particular attention to those users who spent considerable time on social networking sites — Jelenchick and Moreno could not find any significant associations between social-media use and the probability of depression.

“People have looked at things like jealousy, and more transient moods or whatnot, but we really looked at clinical depression,” Jelenchick said. “There was no relation between the amount of time [study participants] were on Facebook and their symptoms of depression.”

Jelenchick added that she didn’t believe there was enough research to support a causal relationship between Facebook and symptoms of depression.

She argues that researchers may need to look more at how people use Facebook — instead of how much.

“I’m not arguing there’s no effect on mood,” she added. On the other hand, “If you have a teen and they’re spending a lot of time on Facebook but their grades are fine and they’re involved in school and they have a good group of friends … that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

media WMV RealPlayer Winamp Quicktime