UW researchers dispute Facebook link to depression


Last year an influential doctor’s group warned that Facebook may contribute to depression in some adolescents. A study of UW-Madison students says, “no it doesn’t”.

Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics caused a stir when it came out with a report on social media that suggested Facebook could trigger depression in some adolescents. The report urged parents limit their kid’s time online to two hours or less. Now, different researchers say that report may be unnecessarily alarming. Lauren Jelenchick conducted a study of 190 UW Madison students. Most were on Facebook between 30-minutes a day and two hours. “Our data just didn’t find any real relationship between the two variables,” she says.

The UW students surveyed about internet use and depression in Jelenchick’s study were between the ages of 18 and 23. She says this group is more likely to develop depression and use social media. Yet the report found no link. “Now it’s only a single study so what would be really helpful going forward from here will be to look in other groups, so younger adolescents or adolescents who aren’t in school currently to get a more wide reaching idea,” she says.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Jelenchick says parents don’t need to be overly concerned about their kids’ internet use unless there are other factors that might indicate something’s wrong: like lack of friends, spotty school work, or behavioral changes.