Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Christian expert: Social media and depression not clearly linked

Thu 07 Apr 2016
By Hannah Tooley

A Christian group has said a correlation between the use of use of social media and users feel negatively about themselves, does not mean one causes the other. 

CODEC was speaking after a news report showed that one in five people say using social media makes them depressed.

Dr Peter Phillips, Director for CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology at Durham University, told Premier's News Hour social media has both good and bad aspects.

"It distracts us from our work and from sleep - so all of those things can disturb us physically, not allowing us to get the rest that we need, not allowing us to recharge our batteries.

"Always feeling the pressure that social media puts us under."

He added there there was positives too: "A huge proportion people are able to engage with what's online, engage in social interaction, social friendships and engage with people all over the place and are able to find help and support from one another.

"For some people who just can't face, or don't have the opportunity to engage in face-to-face relationships, social media can be really, really good, we can benefit from getting to know somebody or making a friend online."

He was speaking after the report showed that more than half of users also felt pressured to use social media.

56% said they felt pushed to post and share interesting content as well as have others engage with other profiles.

Dr Peter Phillips was commenting after a survey by Privilege Home Insurance that revealed 6.9 million adults in the UK feel depressed looking at their friends' lives online as they compared their own lives to posts.

The survey also revealed that 18% of users will only post a photo if they think they look attractive in it, and 7% only post a photo of themselves if it has been edited or uses a filter to change the picture.

10% of users said they were embarrassed if a post did not receive any 'likes', 'favourites', retweets or comments and 8% of people had removed posts with no interaction.

This statistic doubled among 18-34 year olds.

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speak to Dr Peter Phillips here:

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