Social media may negatively impact consumers’ physical health, say researchers

*Experts caution consumers against spending too much time on social media platforms as this can increase inflammation biomarkers

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As several studies have explored how the use of social media can impact consumers’ mental health, researchers from the University of Buffalo, in a fresh study explored the physical health toll associated with screen time.

The study findings indicated that frequent social media use may increase consumers’ risk for a number of physical health concerns, including inflammation, a higher risk of disease, and a greater likelihood of doctors’ visits, agency report stated.

Researcher Dr. David Lee said: “Social media use has become an integral part of many young adults’ daily lives.

“It’s critical that we understand how engagement across these platforms contributes to physical health.”

As regards how the social media poses a health risk for the study, the experts had over 250 college students between ages 18 and 24 participate in the study.

They answered questions about their social media use and physical health, and also provided blood samples.

Using that information, the researchers identified a link between social media use and physical symptoms.

The participants’ blood samples showed that more time on social media was associated with higher levels of the C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a biomarker closely associated with inflammation throughout the body.

Over time, CRP can increase the risk for disease, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Dr. Lee also stated: “By looking at a biological marker in the blood, we were able to find a relatively more objective association between social media usage and physical health, but this correlational finding can’t rule out the possibility that poor health impacts social media usage.”

Participants who spent the most time on social media also more frequently reported experiencing headaches and back pains.

These participants also visited their doctors with more regularity than participants who spent less time on social media, said the report.

As the researchers hope that more work is done in this area, the team wonders if healthy consumers are less likely to spend lots of time on social media, whereas those with health issues are more frequent social media users.

“There’s still work to be done. But right now, I wanted to get the word out there that social media use may have a link to important physical health outcomes,” Dr. Lee said.

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