Social Media Linked to Higher Risk of Depression in Teen Girls

Leslie Hanson
January 6, 2019

"For girls, greater daily hours of social media use corresponded to a stepwise increase in depressive symptoms", explained Kelly. Call it smartphone psychiatry or child psychology 2.0.

Though social media acts as a helpful tool for teenagers to learn and connect with friends, experts have long warned that too much Snapchatting or Instagramming has its own repercussions. The 87-page report, released Thursday by Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, found that children and teenagers have little time to decompress and get no break from the "bell-to-bell instruction" in schools and other activities.

The authors say the sleep disruption is due to young people staying up late to use social media and being woken up by alerts coming in to their phones beside their beds.

The findings were published in the journal EClinicalMedicine. Regardless of length of time, girls were consistently about twice as likely to be depressed in relation to their social media use.

Researchers found the most important routes from social media use to depressive symptoms were shown to be via poor sleep and online harassment.

"For boys, higher depressive symptom scores were seen among those reporting three or more hours of daily social media use".

Social media is also closely associated with poor sleeping habits, especially among 14-year-olds showing clinical signs of depression.

In a study analyzing data from almost 11,000 young people in Britain, researchers found that 14-year-old girls were heavier users of social media, with two-fifths of them using it for more than three hours a day, compared with a fifth of 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.

The study also found that 12 per cent of light social media users and 38 per cent of heavy social media users (more than five hours a day) showed signs of having more severe depression.

Professor Yvonne Kelly, from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said: "The link between social media use and depressive symptoms was stronger for girls compared with boys". While one in 10 boys do not use social media at all, only 4 per cent of girls said the same.

When the researchers examined the underlying processes that might be linked with social media use and depression they found 40% of girls and 25% of boys had experience of online harassment or cyberbullying and 40% of girls compared to 28% of boys said their sleep was often disrupted.

"My best bet would be the types of things that girls and boys do online", stated Kelly to CNN.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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