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Digital depression – are social networks bringing us down?

Staying in touch, sharing special moments – social networks boast many positive characteristics and many users can no longer imagine a life without them. Drinking your first cup of coffee in the morning now goes hand in hand with checking your timeline. But does our passion for posts and likes harbour dangers?

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab takes a closer look at the dark side of social networks. It suggests that Facebook, Instagram etc. can lead to a kind of digital depression, envy and stress, among other things. A quarter of participants surveyed in Germany (27.3 %) stated it had occured that using social media had made them feel depressed and that they were envious (27.1 %) if their friends got more likes than they did. The reason for this: On their hunt for “likes” and social validation, many users feel under pressure. The result: Lacking “likes” can lead to frustration, which, in turn, leads to risky behaviour when it comes to sharing sensitive information.

Many users seem to put themselves at risk online if the social networks do not deliver the desired positive effect or the “like” success they had hoped for. These are the most common reasons given for frustration:

  • Annoying advertising (55 %)
  • Envy because someone seems to have a better life (48 %)
  • Disppointment if a post isn’t received the way it should have been (46 %)

Life in the online bubble

It’s only natural to primarily share the beautiful moments in life. However, this soon leads to a kind of online bubble. In other words, a parallel world in which only the positive aspects are shown and the negative aspects ignored. At the same time, everybody is familiar with life’s negative aspects. This amplifies the impression that other peoples’ lives are better. This impression or suggestive force is so strong that 38 % of participants, after looking at their older posts, said that there life looked better then than it does now.

Men reveal more

Indeed, when it comes to behaviour, a significant difference between the sexes was established. Men in particular measure their social acceptance by the number of likes they get. 16 % of men surveyed in Germany are afraid of losing their friends’ recognition should their posts not get the desired amount of “likes”. The result: Men are much more inclined to take greater risks on social networks than in real life in order to gain higher social recognition. In order to gain more attention, men will mainly post the following:

  • Selfies of themselves wearing revealing clothes (9 %) or under the influence of alcohol (9 %)
  • Things that weren’t strictly true (8 %)
  • Photos of friends under the influence of alcohol (8 %) or wearing something revealing (7 %)
  • Embarrassing details of a work colleague (6 %)

Only half as many women show this kind of risky behaviour. Psychologists’ explanation for this discrepancy between the sexes is that men are less likely to seek social harmony and more willing to take risks than women.

Thumbs up for more security

In general, users reveal sensitive information on social media platforms. From the town they live in to their relationship status to their employer. Interestingly, this is all information that the majority of survey participants did not wish to share with others. Undoubtedly, this kind of information in combination with other facts is very appealing to cyber criminals and other criminals. Does this mean we should abstain from social media? No, definitely not. Primarily, the platforms in question are great for staying in touch with friends and family and they’re fun. And that’s the way it should stay – provided that users are more careful about the things they post.

Further results

For more information on the study “Have we created unsocial media? How social media affects our lives and mood” are available on the Kaspersky blog.

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User

Raphael Knecht, Zurich

  • Teamleader Heimdall
When I'm not stuffing my face with sweets, you'll catch me running around in the gym hall. I’m a passionate floorball player and coach. On rainy days, I tinker with my homebuilt PCs, robots or other gadgets. Music was my first love, cooking is my second: I’m a real foodie and love trying out new recipes. I also enjoy travelling to exotic places, tackling hilly terrain on my road bike and criss-crossing the country on my cross-country skis.

1 Comment

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User Cannaprn

Ich empfehle sehr zu diesen Thema die Youtube Videos von Pr. Dr. Dr Manfred Spitzer einer der wenigen Personen die die digitale Entwicklung kritisch gegenüber steht und auch überprüfbare studien vorlegt. Lohnt sich.

01.03.2017