College freshmen today use social media more and study more. They’re also more depressed.

Allie Bidwell from US News reports.

College Freshmen Socialize Less, Feel Depressed More

College freshmen are spending less time socializing with friends and partying, and more time interacting through online social networks and studying.

Perhaps as a result, students’ emotional health has dropped to an all-time low, according to a survey by the University of California-Los Angeles.

“When we look at the fact that students are spending more time studying and less time socializing, they’re not having a way to release some of that stress,” says Kevin Eagan, an assistant professor in residence at UCLA and lead author of a report on the survey’s findings. “Those two factors combined may be contributing to added levels of feeling overwhelmed or feeling depressed as they come into college.”

The American Freshman Survey collected responses from about 153,000 full-time, first-year students at more than 200 four-year public and private institutions in 2014. An increasing number of students – now 38.8 percent – said they spend less than five hours each week with friends, while just 18 percent said they spend more than 16 hours weekly with friends. It’s the opposite of the picture student responses painted in 1987, when two-thirds said they spent more than 16 hours each week socializing.

At the same time, college freshmen now report increased interaction through social media. The percentage of students who spend six hours or more each week using social media has increased by 44 percent, from 18.9 percent in 2007 to 27.2 percent in 2014.