The study was carried out on university students, and covered their online habits, including surfing social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The work was conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USM) School of Medicine and Public Health, Science Blog reports.
The main conclusion of the investigation is that Facebook Depression is an imaginary condition. In other words, parents should not be alarmed that their children are at risk of developing depression simply because they spend too much time on the Internet.
At the same time, their length of time they spend online is not an indicator that they are prone to depression. Additional details of the study were published in the July 10 online issue of the esteemed Journal of Adolescent Health.
The study was conducted in response to a report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011, which argued that prolonged exposure to Facebook and other social media websites could cause depression. The new investigation found no evidence to support these claims.
The UWM research group, led by scientists Lauren Jelenchick and Dr. Megan Moreno, selected a group of 190 students at the university, aged between 18 and 23, and then performed a series of real-time assessments of the participants' online activity.
At the same time, the team also used a validated, clinical screening method for depression on the study group. The study revealed that the students were on Facebook over half of the total time they spent online. These results were then cross-referenced with the results of the depression screening tests.
The team was unable to find any statistically significant correlation between social media use and participants' risk of developing depression.
“Our study is the first to present scientific evidence on the suggested link between social-media use and risk of depression. The findings have important implications for clinicians who may prematurely alarm parents about social-media use and depression risks,” Jelenchick explains.
“While the amount of time on Facebook is not associated with depression, we encourage parents to be active role models and teachers on safe and balanced media use for their children,” Moreno concludes.