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Regular social media use good for mental health


December 10, 2016: Regularly using social media contributes to good mental health, an Australian study has found.

The study, published by the University of Melbourne and Monash University on Friday, reviewed 70 studies that examined the relationship between social networking and depression, anxiety and wellbeing.

Researchers found that social networks often proved useful for connecting with others and receiving social support as well as providing a unique source of social support for people who found face-to-face interaction difficult.

However, social media was not good for everyone with people who often compared themselves to others, posted negative thoughts or who were addicted to social media being at a greater risk of suffering from depression and anxiety.

Peggy Kern, the leader of the study from the University of Melbourne, said that people with social anxiety were more likely to passively browse social media rather than directly engaging while individuals with depressive symptoms were more likely to post their negative thoughts.

“Social media provides not only a window into the thoughts and emotions that people choose to share, but also some of their behavioural patterns that may help or hinder mental health,” Kern said in a media release on Friday.

“By understanding links between social media and mental health, we can make better choices about how to best use social media, as well as use social media to promote good mental health.”

Elizabeth Seabrook, a researcher from Monash University, said the research meant social media could be used in the future to identify and predict the presence of depression and social anxiety in a user.

“With continued research it may be a powerful tool for the early identification of mental health risk,” Seabrook said.