One in five people say using social media makes them depressed, a new report has found.

A survey by Privilege Home Insurance revealed 6.9 million adults in the UK feel depressed looking at their friends’ lives online as they compare themselves to them.

More than half of users also feel pressured to use social media, and 56% said they feel pushed to post and share interesting content as well as engage with other profiles.

The survey also revealed 18% of users will only post a photo if they think they look attractive in it, with 7% only uploading an image of themselves if it has been edited or uses a filter.

A man using a laptop
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Engagement is also seen to be a qualifier of status – 10% of users said they are embarrassed if a post doesn’t receive any likes, favourites, retweets or comments and 8% of people have removed posts with no interaction – a statistic that doubles among 18 to 34- year-olds.

In this age group, 8% said they had been disciplined or sacked from work for inappropriate posts; 23% argue with users on social media; and 17% have left drunken comments they later regretted.

The survey also examined “social media etiquette”, finding 36% of users feel obliged to like their friends’ posts and a quarter said wishing a friend a “happy birthday” on social media is a necessity, even if they have already done so in person.

Accepting friends is also considered an additional pressure, with 22% feeling required to accept a friend request from a colleague and one in 10 people feeling they have to follow users back on Twitter.

Twitter logos on a screen
(Chris Ison/PA)

More than half of adults confessed to checking up on old friends, colleagues and exes. Of these, 25% said it was to look at somebody they were attracted to; 17% use it to see what colleagues do out of hours; and 13% do it with the intention of gossiping about their findings.

According to the report, 3.4 million Britons use social media at least twice an hour.

Dan Simson, head of Privilege Home Insurance, said: “Social media is bringing the notion of modern friendships into question and – instead of spending quality time together – people increasingly seem to be basing how they see their popularity on superficial interactions and measures such as ‘likes’.

“Everything posted to social feeds is visible on Google, so people must be savvy about what they’re putting out there – the minute you hit the post button, you no longer hold the rights to your own content.”