Online Social Networking and Depression in High School Students
One of the most frequent psychiatric disorders, depression affects approximately 16 percent of the general population at least once in their lifetime. A risk factor for cardiovascular disorders, suicidal ideation, and inability to maintain employment, depression affects not only the individual, but their families as well. There have been many studies over the past 10 years that have focused on the relationship between screen viewing, depression, and other various disorders, and as a result, television has been linked to aggressive, antisocial, and sedentary behavior while computer use has been linked to anxiety and depressive symptoms. Less studied has been the relationship between social networking and various disorders, including depression, as such services as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace are still relatively new, with their creation being less than 10 years ago. As they are highly popular amongst adolescents and adults alike, they have had an enormous impact on the modern way of life, including changing how people communicate with one another.5 As a recent study by Gonzales and colleagues revealed that Facebook use is linked to changes in self-esteem, Faculty of Medicine from the Institute of Medical Physiology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, Igor Pantic and colleagues were inspired to conduct a study to further consider the relationship between social networking and depression indicators in the adolescent population.5
Pantic and colleagues conducted their study in 2011 at a high school in the city of Pozarevac, Central Serbia.5 One-hundred sixty students participated in the study, by way of undergoing an interview, using an anonymous questionnaire and the Beck Depression Inventory—second edition (BDI-II-II).5 The BDI-II-II is a 21-question multiple-choice, self-report inventory that rates each answer with a score between zero and three. Upon completion of the inventory, the total score reveals the following: 0-9 minimal depression, 10-18 mild depression, 19-29 moderate depression, and 30-63 severe depression.7 The average BDI-II-II score in this study was 8.19, revealing minimal depression; however, 46 students rated mild depression and 10 students rated moderate depression.5 Students provided information regarding height and weight, gender, average daily time spend on social networking sites, average time spent on watching television, and average sleep duration within a 24-hour period. The average age of the participants was 18 years, and 68.1 percent were female.5 The average daily time spent on social networking sites was 1.86 hours and the average daily time spent watching television was 2.44 hours.5 The average body mass index of the participants was 21.84 and the average sleep duration during a 24-hour period was 7.37 hours.5
Pantic and colleagues found a significant positive correlation between the participants’ BDI-II-II scores and the time spent on social networking sites, as the score increased with the amount of time spent on the sites.5 On the other hand, there was not a significant positive correlation between time spent watching television and BDI-II-II scores.5 There is already evidence that Facebook is related to the self-esteem of adolescents who spend too much time viewing their own profile, as doing so leads to lower self-esteem as there is increased awareness of one’s internal and social standards.6 Therefore, Pantic and colleagues believe that changes in self-esteem caused by Facebook leads to depression.5 Pantic and colleagues also found a correlation between social networking and obesity, as screen viewing leads to a sedentary way of life.5 They state that there is evidence to connect high levels of social networking with less time spent doing physical activity and, therefore, obesity.5
In conclusion, Pantic and colleagues state that time adolescents spend on social networking sites leads to depression, determined by the BDI-II-II.5 Additional research is needed to demonstrate the more detailed relationship between social networking and depression; however, Pantic and colleagues hope their study provides a solid basis for such.
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 Pantic, I.; Damjanovic, A.; Todorovic, J.; et al. (2012). Association Between Online Social Networking and Depression in High School Students: Behavioral Physiology Viewpoint. Psychiatia Danubina 24(1): 90-93
 Gonzales AL & Hancock JT: Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall: effects of exposure to Facebook on selfesteem. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2011; 14:79-83.
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