Scientists have been reporting strong links between heavy internet use and depression, with a particular focus on social media. This came as no surprise to health education expert Dr Aric Sigman, who says high exposure to social media can leave people feeling inadequate. “There is a relationship between the amount of time you spend on social media and increased body dissatisfaction. High consumption of idealised images seems to activate neural networks in the brain like the amygdala, associated with fear and anxiety.”
Sigman cites a study in which girls who instant messaged their mothers released the stress hormone cortisol, rather than the feel-good hormone oxytocin associated with face-to-face interaction. “We may be hard-wired to need a certain amount of contact with people we care about. A deficit in human contact may result in health problems.”
Facebook, it seems, might not be giving us enough facetime.