Media releases

  • Brock researchers find no evidence social media use predicts future depression

    MEDIA RELEASE: 14 February 2019 – R00025

    Worries that teens and adolescents who use social media are at a greater risk of developing symptoms of depression later in life may be unfounded.

    New research out of Brock University’s Department of Psychology and the Centre for Lifespan Development Research finds no evidence that social media use is a predictor of depressive symptoms over time.

    “By using data from two large longitudinal studies, we were able to empirically test the assumption that social media use is leading to greater depressive symptoms,” says Psychology PhD candidate Taylor Heffer, lead author of the paper published in Clinical Psychological Science.

    While some research has found an association between the average time spent using social media and average well-being scores, those studies tend to look at a single point in time.

    To understand the long-term relationship between social media use and depression, longitudinal studies are essential, says Heffer. In other words, researchers need to “investigate the same people over time.”

    The paper contends that association does not mean social media use leads to future depression in either males or females.

    Heffer and her team were surprised to discover that among adolescent girls, the relationship was actually the other way around: symptoms of depression predicted greater social media use over time.

    “This finding contrasts with the idea that people who use a lot of social media become more depressed over time,” says Heffer. “Instead, adolescent girls who are feeling down may turn to social media to try and make themselves feel better.”

    According to Heffer, this finding “highlights the importance of testing multiple explanations” for why the link between social media use and depression exists, rather than assuming social media use predicts later depressive symptoms.

    Results of this research suggest future avenues for exploration that can look at how different groups of people use social media, says Heffer.

    “It would be interesting to look at how the quality of social media use — for example, using social media for social comparisons, active versus passive engagement and types of social media use — might be associated with well-being over time,” she says.

    The samples used in this research came from two large longitudinal studies out of Brock. One, currently underway through the Centre for Lifespan Development Research, is following around 1,500 adolescents, ranging from Grades 3 to 8, and is investigating potential interactions of health-risk behaviours across multiple factors. The other study surveyed more than 1,100 first-year Brock University students annually for seven years. All participants responded to self-report measures of well-being and reported average time spent engaged in social media, along with numerous other measures.

    In addition to Heffer, co-authors of the research include Brock PhD candidate Elliott MacDonnell, master’s student Owen Daly, Brock Psychology Professor Teena Willoughby and Brock alumna Marie Good (PhD ’11), Assistant Professor of Psychology at Redeemer University College.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • King Ubu coming to Marilyn I. Walker Theatre

    MEDIA RELEASE: 13 February 2019 – R00024

    Alfred Jarry’s controversial classic King Ubu will bring audiences face-to-face with the absurdity of modern life when the production comes to Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker Theatre starting Friday, March 1.

    Presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), the show is an avant-garde and hilarious commentary on human folly and the dangers of unchecked political ambition.

    Director and Associate Professor David Fancy said Ubu’s references to populism and the blurred lines between celebrity culture and politics are fitting themes for our current climate. Although first performed in 19th century France, King Ubu, he added, offers “an invitation to look critically at, but not disengage with, the current moment in time.”

    The play centres on Ma and Pa Ubu’s bloodthirsty quest to become the new king and queen of a fictionalized version of Poland.

    Between their continuous bickering, Pa, an egotistical and inept tyrant who wields an enormous toilet brush while speaking nonsense, and Ma, his enabling and devious wife, scheme to take over the world through a series of antics that play out like a reality show gone wrong.

    To emphasize the theatrical nature of Ma and Pa Ubu’s political exploits, the show features puppets, karaoke numbers and a giant puppet head that eats half the cast.

    Although the production stays true to the absurdist spirit of Jarry’s original work, Fancy said there is also a layer of introspection that exists beneath all the silliness.

    “On one side we’re being playful, irreverent and sarcastic like Jarry, but on the other side there are also lots of heartfelt moments,” he said. “We can use laughter on some level to celebrate, criticize and escape, but we will also be forced to confront the fact that these are real people having difficult experiences. We question what caused them to become such trainwrecks — and whether we need to have compassion for these people who are perhaps not so different from us.”

    The show’s gender-bending lead role selection also provides a unique twist.

    Ubu admonishes supremacy logic in all of its forms and casting a woman as Ubu helps heighten the critique of patriarchy. At the same time, this casting points out that anyone, given the right context, can engage in human folly,” Fancy said of the distribution of roles across genders. “Everybody can behave like a dangerous fool.”

    King Ubu is translated by David Edney and directed by David Fancy, with costume design by Jo Pacinda and scenography and sound design by James McCoy. The production showcases the talents of students in the DART undergraduate program while students, staff and faculty members are also part of the creative and production team.

    King Ubu runs from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 9 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines. Showtimes are March 1, 2 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., March 3 at 2 p.m. and March 8 at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

    Tickets for the show are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. A group rate is also available. Tickets are available through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office at 905-688-0722 or on the PAC website.

    NOTE: Media are invited to attend a media preview on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. Please contact Communications Officer Sarah Ackles at to confirm attendance.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases