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Inflammation can lead to an increase in social media use: study


People who suffer from inflammation often spend more time scrolling through social media in hopes of interacting with friends and family, a new study revealed this week.

When the body slows down to heal inflammation and other illnesses, people tend to spend more time looking at their phone, according to Dr. David S. Lee, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Buffalo and an author of the study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

“Inflammation is typically followed by behaviors and symptoms associated with sickness that can help the body heal,” Lee said in a press release.

“Humans are social beings, and when we’re sick or injured, it may be adaptive for us to approach others who can provide social support and care.”

Lee learned that those who feel under the weather found themselves direct messaging and posting to friends’ pages more often than when they’re healthy.

“Interestingly, inflammation did not lead people to use social media for other purposes — for example, entertainment purposes like watching funny videos,” he added.

The first-of-its-kind study, which analyzed 1,800 college- and middle-aged participants, indicated that C-reactive protein (CRP) can influence social media usage among both age groups. CRP is made in the liver and is produced as the body’s response to inflammation.


Lee learned that those who feel under the weather found themselves direct messaging and posting to friends’ pages more often than when they’re healthy.
David S Lee

It found that the middle-aged group’s social media interaction did not change much, as they typically use such platforms “less than once a day,” despite the growing number of this age group engaging on them.

Researchers learned that “inflammation may contribute to increased social media use” while studying college-age participants.

Lee is hoping to use the study to help “teach people to use social media” with the purpose of connecting with others.

“Following this line of research can further inform our understanding about the potential links between the body and daily social behavior,” he said.

“For some people, the relationship between social media use and inflammation may be a positive feedback loop, a cycle where more social media use leads to more inflammation, and more inflammation then leads to more social media use.”



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