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Harvard research shows that people over 40 who use Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are more likely to feel down

A long line of research suggests that spending too much time on social media is harmful to children’s developing brains.

But a new study has warned that even middle-aged adults are also “significantly” more likely to be depressed if they are social media users.

Harvard University researchers found that adults feel even more sad when they use platforms preferred by young people, such as TikTok and Snapchat, possibly because it makes them feel old.

They surveyed 5,400 American adults with an average age of 56 years, twice, once in May 2020 and again a year later.

Participants were asked to complete a nine-question mental health questionnaire about which social media they used.

Lead author of the study, Professor Roy Perlis, said: NBC News: “People who used Facebook, people who used TikTok, and people who used Snapchat were significantly more likely to come back to tell us they felt depressed the next time they took the survey.”

But the researchers couldn’t rule out the possibility that depressed people are more likely to log onto social media, perhaps as an escape.

Participants were polled during the coronavirus pandemic — when depression rates were rising anyway.

Harvard research shows that people over 40 who use Snapchat

Snapchat surpassed depression risk with users one and a half times more likely to feel low. This was followed by Facebook and TitTok, with users coming in with just under one and a half times the odds of reporting symptoms of depression. While the average age of the study participants was 56, the researchers divided their findings into two cohorts, one older than 35 years and one younger than 35 years.

One year after the initial study, 482 (9 percent) of the participants showed a clinically significant deterioration in their mental health, scoring higher for possible signs of depression.

Publish their findings in the medical journal JAMA network opened, the researchers found that people who used Snapchat, Facebook and TikTok were generally more likely to report feelings of depression compared to the previous year.

Which social media platforms were most likely associated with depression?

The Harvard study asked 5,395 American adults with an average age of 56 to personally rate their mental health, as well as their use of social media, on two separate occasions during a year.

Of these 482 (9 percent) of the participants, they showed a clinically significant deterioration in their mental health, scoring higher on possible signs of depression.

Looking at the social media used by these individuals, the researchers found:

Overall, Snapchat was the app most often linked to signs of depression, followed by Facebook and TikTok.

For people over the age of 35, the association between depression and Snapchat and TikTok was higher than the overall figure, but lower for Facebook.

However, the opposite was true for those under the age of 35.

Middle-aged Snapchat users were almost twice as likely to feel depressed compared to their peers who weren’t using the photo-sharing platform.

Older TikTok users feel more than one and a half times lower compared to their peers.

But the reverse was true for Facebook, where people under 35 were more than two and a half times more likely to feel depressed.

The exact reasons why different age groups were more likely to report feeling depressed based on the social media platform they use is unknown.

One theory is that people feel more out of place using social media that doesn’t match their age profile, making them feel out of place.

Snapchat is mainly populated by young people under the age of 35, and TikTok’s main demographic is even younger, with most users in their 20s.

Facebook, one of the original social media giants, has more older users.

However, the study’s findings are limited because it doesn’t measure how often people used social media and what kind of content they used.

Professor Perlis, a psychiatrist at Harvard, added that instead of social media causing depression, using it could be a sign that you are prone to depression.

“Social media use, in particular, may simply be a sign of underlying vulnerability to depression,” he said.

The study authors said their findings add to previous work related to social media use and youth mental health by extending these findings to older demographics.

However, they added that more research needs to be done on the relationship between social media use and mental health.

Social media platforms have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years for the negative effects they have on people’s mental health and body image, especially for young children.

Facebook recently came under fire after it was revealed that the company knew its platform Instagram had been toxic to young girls since 2019, after an internal survey leaked that showed 13 percent of British teens blamed it for suicidal thoughts.

The company’s whistleblowers have also sounded the alarm about the company’s algorithms that send young users down a rabbit hole of harmful content, even if they only innocently interact with content about feeling sad.

The dangers of social media for young people were highlighted following the tragic death of Molly Russel in 2017 after the schoolgirl committed suicide after viewing graphic images of self-harm and suicide on Instagram.

TikTok has also faced its own accusations that neurological disorders such as autism and ADHD are being branded fashionable and leading to an epidemic of involuntary “ticks” among teens as young people want to imitate their favorite social media stars.

The government has repeatedly called on the social media giants to do more to protect their users, both from potentially harmful content and anonymous abuse.

A draft government bill on online security is currently under examination by a committee of MPs, scheduled to meet and discuss it tomorrow.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans at 116123, visit a local branch, or go to: samaritans.org

Instagram’s algorithms allegedly showed Molly Russell malicious content BEFORE she even started searching for it, whistleblower says

According to the Facebook whistleblower, Instagram’s algorithms allegedly showed tragic teen Molly Russell malicious content before she even looked for it.

The schoolgirl from Harrow, in north-west London, saw thousands of images of self-harm and suicide in the six months before she committed suicide at age 14 in 2017, and a judicial inquiry next year will reveal the role social media platforms played in her dead.

Instagram and its parent company Facebook have come under increasing pressure since whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed that tech bosses knew the app was deteriorating the mental health of young people.

A leaked internal investigation from the company found that Facebook had known for at least two years that Instagram was toxic to young girls, but continues to add beauty-editing filters to the app, despite 6 percent of suicidal girls in America using the app blames their desire to commit suicide.

Not only does the leak confirm what has been publicly acknowledged for years — that Instagram can harm a person’s body image, especially if that person is young — but it also confirms that Facebook management knew and was actively investigating it.

It is the latest in a string of scandals for Facebook. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the company had a whitelist of celebrities, influencers and politicians who were exempt from the rules because they had so many followers.

Facebook critics have compared the social media giant to tobacco companies that ignored the science to endanger the health of young people for the sake of profit.

Others say the company, which has a monopoly on youth and social media, is deliberately hiding important research.


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