An unsurprising finding that social media is bad for your mental health.

Cal Newport describes an interesting natural experiment created by the way Facebook rolled out from one campus to the next:

The authors of this paper connect a dataset containing the dates when Facebook was introduced to 775 different colleges with answers from seventeen consecutive waves of the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), a comprehensive and longstanding survey of student mental health.

Using a statistical technique called difference in differences, the researchers quantified changes in the mental health status of students right before and right after they were given access to Facebook.

They found that the effect was about one-fifth as large as losing your job, which is (let’s say) pretty big.

I’m not sure we can stop this train now, however, which suggests the importance of the other side of that comparison. Some people lose their job and fall apart, while others set to work to wind up in an even better place.  Just so, social media can create huge opportunities; we just have to learn (and teach our children) to manage it.

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