Soft Glows and Hard Realities: New Study Confirms the Social Cost of Media Saturation, Says Faith-based Website

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New study’s claims about media-related depression serve as reminder that media consumption must result in human relationships, says faith-based website,

Faith-based website,, says that community organizations need to use online encounters to draw people into human relationships in order to avoid media-related depression.

That statement came in response to a new study released today that connects late-night TV/computer watching to the development of depression and mood disorders.

Researchers from Ohio State University used hamsters to test how exposure to TV/computer light late at night affects humans. The neuroscientists began by subjecting a group of hamsters to dim light throughout the night, an effect they likened to having the TV on in a dark room throughout the night. They then compared the results of that group with a group of hamsters living in a normal light-dark environment, according to the report published this week in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry.

Next, the experimental hamster group was moved back into a normal light-dark cycle so researchers could assess the changes in behavior. How does exposure to the “soft glow” affect the hamsters? The OSU team found that these hamsters were less active and were less likely to want to drink sugar water, symptoms that the team correlated with those found in depressed people, the report said.

The change seems to go deeper than just outward appearance though.

The researchers noticed changes in the hamster hippocampus, the part of the brain that functions like the human brain’s search engine. Changes in the size of the hippocampus reflect likelihood of depression in humans, the study’s leader, Tracy Bedrosian told Reuters. Researchers also noticed the increased production of the TNF (tumor necrosis factor) protein, a protein that causes inflammation often connected to depression.

So what does it mean for human media consumption? “The results we found in hamsters are consistent with what we know about depression in humans,” Bedrosian said. That is bad news for people who have grown used to the soft glow of the TV or computer late at night.

Other social researchers concerned with the implications this study has for our understanding of media consumption in general. Pastor Jamie from, a website that offers resources for people struggling with depression, says this study points to further “media saturation” in American culture. “Community leaders, churches, and social organizations need to be aware of media-related depression; online interactions need to draw people toward offline human connections,” he said.

Fortunately, Bedrosian and her research team discovered a pretty simple fix for this media-related depression—both in hamsters and in humans: simply return to a normal light-dark cycle. Still, that may prove easier said than done.

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