Passively scrolling on social media linked to anxiety, depression & stress in new study
Passive social media use, where users scroll through others’ content without posting their own, has been linked to loneliness, stress and depression in a new study.
If you find yourself passively scrolling social media a lot, this might be your sign to take a break. Young adults who browse others’ content on social media are more likely to go through anxiety, depression, and stress than active users who share their own content, according to a new study.
For the study published in the journal Behavior & Information Technology, researchers surveyed 288 participants between the ages of 18 and 34 to understand the relationship between various styles of engagement with social media, feelings of loneliness and psychological distress.
The study looked at three types of social media use. This included passive, where users exclusively browsed content by other users, active non-social, where users posted their own content but did not directly engage with other users and active social, where they posted their own content and interacted with other users and their content.
In the study, the researchers found that increased passive social media use was linked to elevated levels of anxiety, depression and stress. Curiously, creating and sharing content while not interacting directly with others online had a positive impact on stress.
“This finding highlights the positive aspects of active non-social media use, such as public content sharing, that allows users to receive feedback, such as likes and positive comments to their posts, but without the demands of direct social interactions. In other words, active non-social media users do not experience the additional pressures from constantly participating or initiating conversations with other people online which can be mentally exhausting,” said Constantina Panourgia, corresponding author of the paper, in a press statement.
According to Panourgia, who is a senior lecturer in developmental psychology at Bournemouth University, passive social media use does not give users opportunities for communication and self-disclosure which can promote connectedness and social support. This could lead to users feeling isolated and excluded. These feelings of loneliness could lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression.