For the first time, researchers say Facebook can cause depression

For the first time, researchers say Facebook can cause depression, by Bret Arends.

A new study conducted by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania has shown — for the first time — a causal link between time spent on social media and depression and loneliness, the researchers said.

It concluded that those who drastically cut back their use of sites like Facebook, Instagram FB, -0.57% and Snapchat SNAP, +0.33% often saw a marked improvement in their mood and in how they felt about their lives. …

Many of those who began the study with moderate clinical depression finished just a few weeks later with very mild symptoms …

For the study, [Melissa Hunt, psychology professor at University of Pennsylvania, who led the study] and her team studied 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania over a number of weeks. They tested their mood and sense of well-being using seven different established scales. …

The new study suggests that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat aren’t just popular with the lonely and depressed: They’re also making people more lonely, and more depressed….

Why do Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat make you feel bad?

The study didn’t analyze this, but Hunt offers two explanations. The first is “downward social comparison.” You read your friends’ timelines. They’re deliberately putting on a show to make their lives look wonderful. The result: “You’re more likely to think your life sucks in comparison,” says Hunt.

The second reason: FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out.