This week’s question would appear to answer itself: It is the rare person who emerges from an hour’s scrolling feeling healthy, rejuvenated, and better-prepared to take on the vicissitudes of the day. The general consensus among the terminally online would seem to be that the internet is a miserable place just barely made tolerable by the idiots and well-meaning naifs whose screw-ups at least provide something to ridicule. But is there a scientific basis for this generalized feeling? How has social media actually impacted mental health, per the research? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out.
According to Chris Barry, professor of psychology at Washington State University, whose work focuses on adolescent self-perception and social media engagement in adolescents and young adults:
It’s somewhat difficult to determine cause and effect with social media. It could be that social media impacts mental health, but it also could be that certain people who are feeling distressed and lonely seek out social media. So it’s a little bit of a chicken-and-the-egg situation.