We’ve all probably heard that scrolling through social media (or Passive Social Media Use – PSMU) use is related to depression – but how? And does scrolling cause depression, or are depressed people more likely to scroll?
These questions are difficult to answer without examining in-the-moment data over time. Parsing the relationship between the two fluctuating factors would be difficult with a small number of assessments that were outside the context of the event.
So, in study by McNally’s team at Harvard, led by first author, George Aalbers, used the LifeData platform to collect mood and passive scrolling data from participants several times per day over a couple weeks to try and find the relationships between mood and scrolling.
They had some interesting discoveries – such as
- Increased use led to issues such as loss of interest
- Fatigue and loneliness predicted passive scrolling
- Passive scrolling did not predict stress
- Passive scrolling was related to certain depression symptoms but controlling for other variables removed the effect
With experience sampling technology from LifeData, McNally and his team were able to gather valuable data to help learn about this prevalent issue. Next time you have an idle moment, you might pause to think about why you are scrolling, and the effect it might be having on you.