Social media linked to higher risk of depression in teen girls

Reuters

Social media linked to higher risk of depression in teen girls

"These findings are highly relevant to current policy development on guidelines for the safe use of social media and calls on industry to more tightly regulate hours of social media use for young people", she said in a statement. The participants provided information on their social media habits, sleep patterns, body image, and experience of online harassment. The findings were published in the journal EClinicalMedicine.

When the researchers examined the underlying processes that might be linked with social media use and depression, they found 40 per cent of girls and 25 per cent of boys had experience of online harassment or cyberbullying. For girls, greater daily hours of social media use corresponded to a stepwise increase in depressive symptoms.

In an investigation breaking down information from nearly 11,000 youngsters in Britain, specialists found that 14-year-old teenage girls were heavier users of online networking, with two-fifths of them utilizing it for over three hours per day, contrasted and a fifth of young men.

However, the study only showed an association between social media use and symptoms of depression, which can include feelings of unhappiness, restlessness or loneliness. Furthermore, girls are using social media at higher rates, with two in five of them spending three or more hours a day on social media as opposed to one in five boys.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, said more action was needed from government to understand the impact of social media. In comparison, only 4 percent of girls surveyed stay off of apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. Among kids who used social media for over five hours per day, the depression scores rose by 50 percent in girls and 35 percent in boys compared to the light users.

Girls were found more likely to have low self-esteem and body weight dissatisfaction and be unhappy with their appearance, than boys. This is mainly due to online harassment and disturbed sleep, as well as poor body image and lower self-esteem, according to new University College London research. Among teenagers who had perpetrated online bullying, 32.8 per cent of girls and 7.9 per cent of boys were depressed. Only 28 percent of boys had the same experience.

Shannon McLaughlin, 18, from Blackburn, explained how social media has harmed her mental health.

More research is needed to determine whether teens who have depressive symptoms are more likely to use social media, versus frequent social media use leading to depressive symptoms. Social media could be blamed for the sleep disruption say the authors of the study. "Adolescents have social anxiety and exhibit their emotions, views and opinions by communicating to people on social media".

"For me, the sleep one is probably the most actionable in some ways", said Maslow, who was not involved in the research.

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