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Social media depresses 6.9m people comparing lives to others' posts - study

Published 07/04/2016

A study found 6.9 million UK adults feel depressed looking at their friends' lives online as they compared their own lives to posts
A study found 6.9 million UK adults feel depressed looking at their friends' lives online as they compared their own lives to posts

One in five people say using social media makes them depressed, a new report has found.

A survey by Privilege Home Insurance revealed that 6.9 million adults in the UK feel depressed looking at their friends' lives online as they compared their own lives to posts.

More than half of users also felt pressured to use social media, and 56% said they felt pushed to post and share interesting content as well as engage with other profiles.

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

Engagement was also seen to be a qualifier of status - 10% of users said they were embarrassed if a post didn't receive any likes, favourites, retweets or comments and 8% of people had removed posts with no interaction, a statistic that doubles among 18-34 year olds.

In this age group, 8% said they were disciplined or sacked from work for inappropriate posts; 23% argued with users on social media; and 17% left drunken comments that they later regretted.

The survey also examined "social media etiquette", finding 36% of users felt obliged to like their friend's posts and a quarter of users said wishing a friend a "Happy Birthday" on social media was a necessity, even if they had already done so in person.

Accepting friends was also considered an additional pressure, with 22% who felt required to accept a friend request from a colleague and one in 10 people feeling they had to follow users back on Twitter.

More than half of adults confessed to checking up on old friends, colleagues and exes. Of these, 25% said it was to look at somebody they were attracted to; 17% use it to see what colleagues do out of hours; and 13% do it with the intention of gossiping about their findings.

According to the report, 3.4 million Britons use social media at least twice an hour.

Dan Simson, head of Privilege Home Insurance, said: "Social media is bringing the notion of modern friendships into question and - instead of spending quality time together - people increasingly seem to be basing how they see their popularity on superficial interactions and measures such as 'likes'.

"Everything posted to social feeds is visible on Google, so people must be savvy about what they're putting out there - the minute you hit the post button, you no longer hold the rights to your own content."

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