Association of time spent on social media with depression and suicidal ideation among a sample of Lebanese adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Lebanese economic crisis

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Curr Psychol. 13:1-13 May 2022. doi: 10.1007/s12144-022-03148-1. Online ahead of print.


The main objectives were to associate the consumption of information on social networks in these unstable times and depression, as well as suicidal ideation in a sample of Lebanese adults, in addition to associating the fear of Covid-19, the depression and suicidal thoughts. The secondary objectives aimed to verify the mediating effect of depression in the association between the time spent on social networks to get information and the presence of suicidal thoughts. This is a cross-sectional study carried out between April and May 2021. It involved 402 Lebanese citizens aged 18 and over, randomly selected from all Lebanese districts. Having cancer (Beta=0.20) or lung disease (Beta=0.27), more fear of COVID-19 (Beta=0.16), more time spent on social media for news (Beta = 0.13) and a higher household crowding index (Beta = 0.29) were significantly associated with more depression, while having a pet at home (Beta = -0.13) and working in the medical field (Beta = -0.17) were significantly associated with less depression. Higher depression (aOR = 1.19) was significantly associated with a higher likelihood of having suicidal ideation, while greater fear of COVID-19 (aOR = 0.84) and older age ( aOR = 0.96) were significantly associated with lower odds of having suicidal thoughts. Depression did not mediate the association between time spent on social media to get the news and suicidal ideation. This study showed that more time spent on social media reading the news is associated with higher depression, but not suicidal ideation. Fear of Covid-19 is associated with more depression, but fewer suicidal thoughts. Further studies are needed to identify the causality between social media news consumption, depression and suicidal ideation. In addition, awareness campaigns should be organized to teach people how to consume social media news responsibly, without directly affecting their emotions, which can cause psychological disorders.

PMID:35582433 | CPM:PMC9099267 | DO I:10.1007/s12144-022-03148-1