Medical

Prolonged social media use causes depression

Prolonged social media use causes depression

Professor Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, and leader of this study said, "it seems, are struggling with these aspects of their lives more than boys, in some cases considerably so".

"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", said Kelly.

Researchers at University College London studied nearly 11,000 14-year-olds. The researchers write, "The most important pathways were via poor sleep and online harassment".

Teen girls are likely to show depressive symptoms linked to social media use twice as much as boys. The study found that two-fifths of the girls became the victims of online harassment or cyber-bullying compared to one-quarter of boys. They found that only 5.4 percent of girls and 2.7 percent of boys slept for seven or less hours per night.

"Their use of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat can also undermine children's view of themselves by making them feel inferior to the people they follow", she added. Poor sleep has always been associated with depressive symptoms.

The participants completed information on their social media use, online harassment, sleep patterns, self-esteem and body image - all of which are potential pathways to having depressive symptoms.




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

For example, 60 percent of girls who are depressed are unhappy with their appearance and 2¹/₂ times more likely than boys to be dissatisfied with their weight. The researchers also found that 38 percent of heavy social media users who are online for five or more hours a day show signs of severe depression. Among teenagers who had perpetrated online bullying, 32.8 per cent of girls and 7.9 per cent of boys were depressed. Social media use was proportionately related to less sleep, taking more time to fall asleep and more disruptions during sleep.

The researchers "still can not definitely say that social media use causes poor mental health, although the evidence is starting to point in that direction", The Guardian quoted Wessely as saying.

The study had some limitations, including that the findings show only a correlation between depressive symptoms and social media use, not a causal relationship. These adolescents often sleep with their phones by their bedside and are woken up by the social media alerts. This was in comparison with teenagers who used it for one to three hours/day.

The extent to which social media has embedded itself into the daily lives of people can not be understated.


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