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Dehghani F, Zareei Mahmoodabadi H. The Effect of Using Virtual Social Networks on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress among Young Adults . SBRH. 2018; 2 (1) :174-180
URL: http://sbrh.ssu.ac.ir/article-1-54-en.html
1- Departments of Psychology, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran.
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The Effect of Using Virtual Social Networks on Depression,
Anxiety, and Stress among Young Adults
 
Fatemeh Dehghani a, Hassan Zareei Mahmoodabadi a*
 
a Departments of Psychology, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran.
 
A R T I C L EI N F O   A B S T R A C T
ORIGINAL ARTICLE    
Background: Today, the use of virtual social networks is very common among young people. Despite the positive effects of social networks on communication there are also negative effects. Therefore, this study was done to identify the impact of virtual social networks on depression, anxiety, and stress in youth.
Methods: This was a correlation study and the population of the study included all young people in Yazd who were selected by convenience sampling method. Then, 120 young people (60 males and 60 females) were selected and answered the DASS-21 and Virtual Social Network Use questionnaire. Data were analyzed by using Pearson correlation coefficient and descriptive statistics by SPSS-22.
Results: The findings showed a relationship between the use of virtual social networks and stress in male users and there was a significant relationship between the use of virtual social networks and depression, anxiety, and stress in female users (P-value < 0/05).
Conclusion: As a result, virtual social networks can affect depression, anxiety, and stress among young people, which highlights the need for education of young people and families.
 
Keywords: Anxiety, Depression, Stress, Virtual Social Networks
 
Article History:
Received: 31Sep 2017
Revised: 29Mar 2018
Accepted: 21Apr 2018
 
 
*Corresponding Author:
Hassan Zareei Mahmoodabadi
 
Email:
zareei_h@yahoo.com
Tel: +98 9132571279
 
 
Citation: Dehghani F, Zareei Mahmoodabadi H. The Effect of Using Virtual Social Networks on Depression,
Anxiety, and Stress among Young Adults. Social Behavior Research & Health (SBRH). 2018; 2(1): 174-180.
 

 
Introduction
 
Young people are in the most sensitive stage of personality formation, this stage plays a fundamental role in the quality of life.1 Young people tend to be members of social networks because of their creativity, tendency to communicate with others, curiosity and the desire to have a different life.2Virtual social networking is a new generation of websites in which
virtual users gather together and form online community.3 Various people, especially young people participate in social networks, to exchange their views and thoughts and to meet their social life needs.2 Today, social networks such as Linux, Telegram, and Facebook have become an integral part of users' lives.
Communicating is the main reason for using social networks; People can communicate widely with each other in a short time. In many cases, extreme use of these networks has been seen in teenagers and young people.4 It limits real world communications, which can lead to anxiety, fear, and depression.5 Symptoms of depression are included feeling of inadequacy, disappointment, loss of activity, and pessimism.6 Depression as the 'Common Cold' of Mental Illness occurs so frequently within population, everyone may at some point be affected by depression.7
Studies about the use of social networks and depression are somewhat contradictory.An approach emphasizes the positive impact of social networks use on mental health, and believes that it increases social protection and life satisfaction while other studies show that the use of social networks increases depression.8 Excessive Internet use has negative psychological consequences, such as depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety.9The relationship between social networks and anxiety has been shown in numerous studies. A Study indicated that 45% of British adults will be anxious if they cannot access the social network and email.10 The American Psychiatric Association (2017) found that 43% of Americans constantly monitor their email and virtual networks, which is linked to stress in these people. 11            Barat Dastjerdiand Sayadi's (2013) study entitled “Relationship between Social Networks Use and Internet Addiction and Depression in Students at Payam Noor University of Isfahan” was conducted. The samples included 345 students. The results showed that there was no significant relationship between social networks use and internet addiction and depression.4Turi et al.'s (2014) study in Birjand showed that anxiety, stress and depression in Internet addict students were significantly higher than normalusers.12
Another research, entitled "Relationship between Internet Addiction and Mental Health of Students in Sari Azad University", showed that Internet addicted students are more depressed and anxious. They got fewer score in the social function index.5
Primack et al.'s (2017) study was conducted on 1787young people aged 19 - 32 indicated that there was a relationship between the use of virtual social networks, anxiety, and depression13 Leodoro et al.'s (2014) study has shown that using Facebook causes depression, anxiety, and stress.14Furthermore, Yi Lin et al.'s (2016) study showed the relationship between the use of virtual social networks and depression.8The results of Jelenchick et al.'s (2013) study, entitled "Facebook Depression: Using Social Networking and Depression in Youth", revealed that there is no relationship between the use of virtual social networks and depression in young people.15     Kirk Patrick and Steijn's study suggested that virtual social networks have a profound effect on depression and insomnia.16
Considering the high use of social networks among young people and the widespread influences on different personal, social and family backgrounds, this study was conducted to investigate the effect of using virtual social networks on depression, stress and anxiety in young adults.
Methods
This was a descriptive-correlational study and the population of the study included all young people in Yazd. Then, 120 young people (60 males and 60 females) were selected by the convenience sampling method.
Depression-Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21): Due to the overlapping of depression and anxiety this scale defines and measures the structures of anxiety and depression.This is a set of three self-evaluation scales designed to measure negative emotional states of depression, stress and anxiety.17The DASS-21 questionnaire has 21 questions that are divided into three subscales of 7 questions for the analysis of anxiety, stress and depression. This questionnaire based on Likert scale has four items including; not at all, a little, rather, and much, which the lowest score for each question is "zero" and the highest score is “3”.Scores above 21 for depression, above 15 for anxiety, and above26 for stress are considered abnormal. In Iran, the reliability of this scale in a sample of 400 people has been reported 0.7 for depression, 0.66 for anxiety and 0.76 for stress. Also, the internal consistency of the scale through Cronbach's alpha for depression was 0.94, for anxiety was 0.92 and for stress was 0.89.12 The Cronbach's alpha of the DASS-21 questionnaire in this study was 0.88.
Virtual Social Networks Questionnaire: In Biramvand's study, a questionnaire was used to investigate the use of virtual social networks (including Line, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, etc.). First, a list of commonly used virtual networks was prepared the extent and severity of use was determined then as a pilot project, a sample of 60 young people answered the questioner. After calculating the internal consistency and validity, some questions were removed and corrected. The questionnaire consists of 19 questions which based on Likert scale had four items from strongly disagree to strongly agree, finally, the scores were in 3 categories including low (0 - 25), moderate (25 - 50), and high (50 - 75). Cronbach's alpha was 0.85.18
In order to observe ethical considerations, all information about individuals was confidential and the participation in this research was optional.
Results
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of using virtual social networks on depression, anxiety and stress in young adults. 120 young people (60 men and 60 women) participated in this study, out of which 52.4% were20-25years old and47.6% were 25-30 years old.
The mean and standard deviation of depression, anxiety and stress in men and women were presented. Generally, depression mean was 6.08, for anxiety was 5.93 and for stress was 9.95.Subjects in the severity of symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress were normal (Table 1).
The mean and standard deviation of the use of virtual networks was shown. The average use of social networks by women was 41.28 and the standard deviation was 10.22.Furthermore, the average use of virtual social networks in men was 45.41 and the standard deviation was 10.37 (Table 2).
Independent t-test was used to examine the difference between the use of virtual social networks in men and women.The results showed that there is no significant difference between the use of virtual social networks in men and women (P-value < 0.05) (Table 3).
In order to investigate the effect of virtual social networking on depression, stress and anxiety in men and women, Pearson correlation coefficient was used.
The relationship between social networks and depression, anxiety and stress in men was revealed. There was a positive and significant relationship between network use and stress in men (P-value < 0/05). However, there was no significant relationship between the use of social networks and depression and anxiety in men (P-value > 0/05) (Table 4).
 
 
Table1. Mean and standard deviation of depression, anxiety and stress in women and men
Gender Index Mean SD
Female(60) depression 36.3 3.18
anxiety 3.06 2.83
Stress
 
4.58 3.10
Male(60) depression 2.71 2.57
anxiety 2.86 2.73
stress 4.40 2.38
 
Table2. Mean and standard deviation of the use of virtual social network
Index Number Mean SD Minimum Maximumm Skewness Kurtosis
using virtual social network in men
 
60 41.45 10.37 19 67 -0.061 -0.300
using virtual social network in women 60 41.28 10.02 19 66 0.056 -0.407
 
Table3. Independent T-Test for using virtual networks in men and women
Index T value Degrees of freedom Level of significance Difference in means Standard error difference With confidence level of 95%
Minimum Maximum
using virtual social networks 0.089 117.858 0.92 0.166 1.86 -3.52 .58
P-vale <0.05
 
Table4. The relationship between use of virtual social networks and depression, anxiety and stress in men
Variable Statistical indicators Parson’s Correlation Coefficient Number P-value significance level
using virtual social networks depression 0.245 60 0.059
anxiety 0.022 60 0.869
stress 0.274 60 0.034
P-value <0/05
 
Table5. The relationship between the use of virtual social networks and depression, anxiety and stress in women
Variable Statistical indicators Parson’s Correlation Coefficient Number P-value significance level
using virtual social networks depression 0.294 60 0.02
anxiety 0.274 60 0.03
stress 0.280 60 0.03
P-value <0/05
 
 
The relationship between social networks and depression, anxiety and stress in women was indicated. There was a positive and significant relationship between using social network and depression, anxiety and stress in women (Table5).
In this study generalization of results is limited due to the convenience sampling method in a city. Use of virtual social networks has expanded in recent years; therefore, it is necessary to take action in order to increase mental health and reduce the symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety in all users' especially young people. It is suggested to do more studies in order to generalize the results.
Discussion
The main purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of using virtual social networks on depression, stress and anxiety among young people.According to the results, there was a relationship between using virtual social networks and stress in men. There was a significant relationship between using virtual social networks and stress, depression and anxiety in women which was consistent with the results. The result of Barat Dastjerdi, Sayadi (2013) and Jelenchick et al.'s (2013) study were inconsistent with the results of this study.4, 15
Virtual communication is full of emotions and nervous impulses that it is impossible to get some of these perceptions in real world. The constantly changing psychological environment of Internet affects the user's psychological balance and puts pressure on the person; these pressures are real, although the originator is virtual.19Excessive Internet use reduces mental health. People who spend a lot of time on the Internet spend less time with their family and relatives; experience more stress, and feel lonelier and more depressed.17It seems that depressed people tend to be more active in social networks because it does not require face-to-face interaction and they are more satisfied with this kind of interaction on the other hand, it is likely that depression is due to excessive Internet use.13Social network use reduces physical activity and increases the risk of depression.20
When users receive messages passively from social networks, they feel depression and loneliness; they feel that others have a better life.8 Women who spend a lot of time on Facebook compare themselves with other users and their negative mood increases.21Most users usually try to show their life better than reality.22
Those users, who use social networks excessively, receive more negative feedback and comments from friends and relatives and it increases depression14.According to Sajjadianand Nadi's (2006) study, the rate of depression in women was higher than in men due to various factors such as biochemical, genetic, neuropath genic factors, environmental stress or negative attitudes.19
In explaining the relationship between the use of social networks and anxiety, it is likely that there is anxiety in users before they start using social networks and they feel better about this engagement. On the other hand, it is likely that anxiety is the result of excessive use of virtual networks.13 People who use multiple networks are constantly checking messages and they feel anxious if they do not have access to the Internet.10 According to Seabrook et al.'s (2016) results, there was no significant relationship between the use of virtual networks and anxiety and depression in men. Since using social networks lead them to positive interaction and social support; therefore, their anxiety and depression will be reduced.23 Men who have a lot of online friends and social support through cyberspace have better mental health.24
Zhou's study, there was a relationship between the use of social networks and stress in women and men. Evidences suggest that the use of virtual social networks can create negative outcomes such as social overload and interruption of work patterns, and increasing stress in users.25 In addition, Hampton et al. (2018) found that knowing stressful events in the lives of others plays an important role in assessing people's stress levels. People understand stressful events in their friends and relatives life through social networks and their stress levels increase. Women are more aware of stressful events and more likely to report them. Therefore, the stress level in women is higher than in man, which is also mentioned in this study.26
Conclusion
It is concluded that Internet networks create false emotions in users and meet their psychological and emotional needs. Therefore users replace virtual networks with direct interaction; the excessive use of these networks endangers the mental health of users.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors also have no conflicts of interest and have no involvement that might raise the question of bias in the results reported here.
Acknowledgments
Authors hereby appreciate Ms. Biranvand who encouraged and guided the research process.
Authors' Contribution
Conceptualization, F.D.; Methodology, H.Z.M.; Investigation, F.D. and H.Z.M.; Review & Editing, H.Z.M.
 
References
  1. Mirzayian B, Baezzat F, Khakpoor N. The addiction among students and its effect on mental health. Information and Communication Technology in Educational Sciences. 2011; 2(1);141-160. [Persian]
  2. Moghaddam F, Norouzi S, Sharafi F. Explore experiences students of social networks and their impact on lifestyle. Iranian Journal of Nursing Research. 2016;11(3):66-73. [Persian]
  3. Naami A, Noori-Samarin S. Prediction of social networks addiction on the basis of female students' loneliness and self-esteem. Journal of Woman in Culture Arts. 2016;8(2):193-204.[Persian]
  4. Barat Dastjerdi N, Sayadi S. Relationship between using social networks and internet addiction and depression among students. Journal of Research Behavioral Sciences. 2013;10(5):332-41.[Persian]
  5. Hasanzade R, Sanai T. The relationship between internet addiction and mental health in student of Azad University Sari. Journal of Health Breeze. 2016;4(4):15-20. [Persian]
  6. Shahbazirad A, Mirderikvand F. The relationship of internet addiction with depression, mental health and demographic characteristic in the students of Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. Journal of Ilam University of Medical Sciences. 2014;22(4):1-8. [Persian]
  7. Masoudnia E. Problematic cyberspace use and risk of depression disorder incidence among adolescents in Yazd. Iranian Journal of Epidemiology. 2013;8(4):15-25. [Persian]
  8. Yi Lin L, Sidani JE, Shensa A, et al. Association between social media use and depression among US young adults. Depression and Anxiety. 2016;33(4):323-331.
  9. Azizi A,Esmaeli S, DhghanManshadi SM. The relationship between internet addiction and anxiety and depression in Jolfa city high school students in 2013. Journal of Community Health. 2016;2(1):11-18. [Persian]
  10. Strickland A.  Exploring the effects of social media use on the mental health of young adults. [B.A Thesis]. United States. University of Central Florida, Burnett Honors College; 2014.
  11. American Psychological Association. Stress in America: coping with change. Available at: URL: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/ stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2018.
  12. Turi A, Miri M, Beheshti D, Yari E, Khodabakhshi H, Sarab GA. Prevalence of Internet addiction and its relationship with anxiety, stress, and depression in intermediate students in Birjand city in 2014. Journal of Birjand University of Medical Sciences. 2015;22(1):67-75. [Persian]
  13. Primack BA, Shensa A, Escobar Viera CG, et al. Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in Human Behavior. 2017;69:1-9.
  14. Leodoro L. Facebook use and adolescents emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Health Science Journal. 2014;8(1)88-89.
  15. Jelenchick LA, Eickhoff JC, Moreno MA. “Facebook depression?” Social networking site use and depression in older adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2013;52(1):128-30.
  16. KirkPatrick C, SteijnR.How much of an effect do social media have on insomnia and depression? [Lecture]at: Medlink or Workshop Conferences; 2014 Apr; Nottingham, England. Nottingham University; 2014.
  17. Poorakbaran E. Assessment of using of emerging communication tools (cell phone, internet and satellite among young adults and its association with anxiety, depression and stress. Journal of Fundamentals of Mental Health. 2015;17(5):254-9.[Persian]
  18. Biramvand Y. Relationship between Using Virtual Networks and Marital Satisfaction among Students of Kashan University. [B.A Thesis]. Iran. University of Isfahan; 2012. [Persian] 
  19. Sajjadian I, Nadi MA. Depression & social isolation in adolescent and young adult internet users, correlation with time duration of internet use. Journal of Research in Behavioral Science. 2006;4(1):33-38. [Persian]
  20. Pantic I, Damjanovic A, Todorovic J, et al. Association between online social networking and depression in high school students: behavioral physiology viewpoint. Psychiatria Danubina. 2012;24(1):90-93.
  21. Fardouly J, Diedrichs PC, Vartanian LR, Halliwell E. Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women's body image concerns and mood. Body Image. 2015;13:38-45.
  22. Jinasena S. Social media impact on youth depression. Sociology and Anthropology. 2014;2(7):291-294.
  23. Seabrook EM, Kern ML, Rickard NS. Social networking sites, depression, and anxiety: A systematic review. JMIR Mental Health. 2016;3(4):50.
  24. Havener L. The Effects of Social Media and Social Networking Site Usage On The Mental Health And Wellbeing Of Adolescents. [B.AThesis]. United States. University of Oregon; 2016.
  25. Zhou Y, Bird J, Cox AL, Brumby D. Estimating usage can reduce the stress of social networking. at: Personal Informatics in the Wild: Hacking Habits for Health & Happiness; 2013; Paris, France.
  26. Hampton K, Rainie L, Lu W, Shin I, Purcell K. Social media and the cost of caring. Available at: URL: http://www.pewinternet.org/ files/2015/ 01/PI_Social-media-and-stress_0115151.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2018.

 
 
Type of Study: Original Article | Subject: Psychology
Received: 2017/10/31 | Accepted: 2018/05/15 | Published: 2018/05/15

References
1. Mirzayian B, Baezzat F, Khakpoor N. The addiction among students and its effect on mental health. Information and Communication Technology in Educational Sciences. 2011; 2(1);141-160. [Persian]
2. Moghaddam F, Norouzi S, Sharafi F. Explore experiences students of social networks and their impact on lifestyle. Iranian Journal of Nursing Research. 2016;11(3):66-73. [Persian]
3. Naami A, Noori-Samarin S. Prediction of social networks addiction on the basis of female students' loneliness and self-esteem. Journal of Woman in Culture Arts. 2016;8(2):193-204.[Persian]
4. Barat Dastjerdi N, Sayadi S. Relationship between using social networks and internet addiction and depression among students. Journal of Research Behavioral Sciences. 2013;10(5):332-41.[Persian]
5. Hasanzade R, Sanai T. The relationship between internet addiction and mental health in student of Azad University Sari. Journal of Health Breeze. 2016;4(4):15-20. [Persian]
6. Shahbazirad A, Mirderikvand F. The relationship of internet addiction with depression, mental health and demographic characteristic in the students of Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. Journal of Ilam University of Medical Sciences. 2014;22(4):1-8. [Persian]
7. Masoudnia E. Problematic cyberspace use and risk of depression disorder incidence among adolescents in Yazd. Iranian Journal of Epidemiology. 2013;8(4):15-25. [Persian]
8. Yi Lin L, Sidani JE, Shensa A, et al. Association between social media use and depression among US young adults. Depression and Anxiety. 2016;33(4):323-331. [DOI:10.1002/da.22466] [PMID]
9. Azizi A,Esmaeli S, DhghanManshadi SM. The relationship between internet addiction and anxiety and depression in Jolfa city high school students in 2013. Journal of Community Health. 2016;2(1):11-18. [Persian]
10. Strickland A. Exploring the effects of social media use on the mental health of young adults. [B.A Thesis]. United States. University of Central Florida, Burnett Honors College; 2014.
11. American Psychological Association. Stress in America: coping with change. Available at: URL: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/ stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2018.
12. Turi A, Miri M, Beheshti D, Yari E, Khodabakhshi H, Sarab GA. Prevalence of Internet addiction and its relationship with anxiety, stress, and depression in intermediate students in Birjand city in 2014. Journal of Birjand University of Medical Sciences. 2015;22(1):67-75. [Persian]
13. Primack BA, Shensa A, Escobar Viera CG, et al. Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in Human Behavior. 2017;69:1-9. [DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.013]
14. Leodoro L. Facebook use and adolescents emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Health Science Journal. 2014;8(1)88-89.
15. Jelenchick LA, Eickhoff JC, Moreno MA. "Facebook depression?" Social networking site use and depression in older adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2013;52(1):128-30. [DOI:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.05.008] [PMID]
16. KirkPatrick C, SteijnR.How much of an effect do social media have on insomnia and depression? [Lecture]at: Medlink or Workshop Conferences; 2014 Apr; Nottingham, England. Nottingham University; 2014.
17. Poorakbaran E. Assessment of using of emerging communication tools (cell phone, internet and satellite among young adults and its association with anxiety, depression and stress. Journal of Fundamentals of Mental Health. 2015;17(5):254-9.[Persian]
18. Biramvand Y. Relationship between Using Virtual Networks and Marital Satisfaction among Students of Kashan University. [B.A Thesis]. Iran. University of Isfahan; 2012. [Persian]
19. Sajjadian I, Nadi MA. Depression & social isolation in adolescent and young adult internet users, correlation with time duration of internet use. Journal of Research in Behavioral Science. 2006;4(1):33-38. [Persian]
20. Pantic I, Damjanovic A, Todorovic J, et al. Association between online social networking and depression in high school students: behavioral physiology viewpoint. Psychiatria Danubina. 2012;24(1):90-93. [PMID]
21. Fardouly J, Diedrichs PC, Vartanian LR, Halliwell E. Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women's body image concerns and mood. Body Image. 2015;13:38-45. [DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.12.002] [PMID]
22. Jinasena S. Social media impact on youth depression. Sociology and Anthropology. 2014;2(7):291-294.
23. Seabrook EM, Kern ML, Rickard NS. Social networking sites, depression, and anxiety: A systematic review. JMIR Mental Health. 2016;3(4):50. [DOI:10.2196/mental.5842] [PMID]
24. Havener L. The Effects of Social Media and Social Networking Site Usage On The Mental Health And Wellbeing Of Adolescents. [B.AThesis]. United States. University of Oregon; 2016.
25. Zhou Y, Bird J, Cox AL, Brumby D. Estimating usage can reduce the stress of social networking. at: Personal Informatics in the Wild: Hacking Habits for Health & Happiness; 2013; Paris, France.
26. Hampton K, Rainie L, Lu W, Shin I, Purcell K. Social media and the cost of caring. Available at: URL: http://www.pewinternet.org/ files/2015/ 01/PI_Social-media-and-stress_0115151.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2018.

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