College students who used social media 'excessively' made more trips to the doctor and had higher levels of a protein linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease, researchers say
social mediause was linked with poorer physical healthin a new study of students.
- Those who used it more had higher levels of a blood protein which indicates chronic
College students who used social media "excessively" made more trips to the doctor and showed a higher levels of a protein that can be a warning sign for cancers and cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, found that in a sample of 251 undergraduate students aged between 18 and 24, participants who used social media more had higher levels of a blood protein that indicates chronic inflammation.
This protein — the C-reactive protein (CRP) — can be used to predict the development of illnesses such as
People in the study who used social media more also reported more headaches, chest and back pains, and trips to the doctor.
The lead author of the paper, Dr. David Lee, an assistant professor at the University of Buffalo who researches how social interactions and relationships influence well-being, told Insider there has been a long history of research that connects the mind and the body. So, if something is good or bad for
Additionally, Lee said, what people do on social media tends to relate to maintaining and cultivating relationships. Decades of research has shown the quality and quantity of supportive social bonds have a strong positive impact on health, he added.
Lee said the researchers expected to find some negative association between social media use and health, as excessive use has been linked to stress and poorer sleep. It can also displace healthier activities, such as spending time with friends or family or exercising.
What surprised them, he said, was that this appeared to show up in blood through levels of the CRP.
The study doesn't mean that social media is all bad, Lee said
There is far more nuance to that question, Lee told Insider.
"For instance, people who use social media actively to connect with others tend to benefit from using it; people who use it passively just to browse do not," Lee said. "We also find in a separate research that the impact of social media use varies for different individuals."
For example, people with high self-esteem tend to benefit more from using social media, while those who struggle with their confidence do not. Negative impacts are likely dependent on "how" people use it, "who" uses it, and "why" people use it, Lee said.
"However, there is an undeniable link between mental health and physical health," he said. "So we should start paying attention to the possibility that some of the earlier research on social media use and mental health may give us clues for potential physical health effects."
Much of the research in this area so far has focused on addressing how bad mental and physical health can lead to more, or unhealthier, social media usage — people turn to social media for support when they are ill, for instance, Lee told Insider.
Both are likely to be true, he said, and that suggests there is a potentially negative cycle where people use social media excessively, or as a coping strategy, experience worse mental and physical health. But those same people may return to social media for various reasons, he added.
- Ready to introduce same-day settlement of trades by March 2024: Sebi chief
- Grok AI chatbot to reach all English-language users in about a week: Musk
- What are the two climate declarations India has been hesitant to sign at COP28?
- This 400-million-year-old fossil is the oldest disease-causing fungus we've ever seen!
- 10 Best places to visit in India for New Year 2024