According to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, social media use was linked to poor physical health indicators among college students.
Social media use was linked to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biological marker of chronic inflammation in the blood linked to chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to David Lee, Ph.D., of the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, and coauthors.
The use of social media was also linked to more frequent somatic symptoms. It was also linked to increased doctor visits or visits to health centers for illness.
High levels of social media or screen time can have a variety of detrimental effects on physical health. It may, for example, reduce the amount and quality of sleep that people get. Hyperconnectivity has been linked to an increase in stress and the displacement of health-promoting behaviors like exercise.
“Given the popularity of social media in daily life and the relevance of social ties to physical health,” the researchers write, “we advocate for future study using a variety of approaches to evaluate the association between social media use and physical health.”
“Using an objective biomarker, this NIH-funded study increases our understanding of the detrimental effects of social media on one’s health. Future research should look into which types of media use are the most harmful, as well as how factors like self-esteem may moderate the link between social media and physical health “Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN, Editor-in-Chief of the Interactive Media Institute in San Diego, California, and the Virtual Reality Medical Institute in Brussels, Belgium, says.