Does social media use cause depression? | Science & Technology

Grant Boone
January 7, 2019

Among those with depression and low mood, 48.4 percent girls and 19.8 percent boys said that they got less than seven hours sleep.

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. When it comes to body image and self-esteem, more girls were affected but the researchers noted that the gap was not as significant.

The University College London team quizzed 11,000 14-year-olds on their social media exposure and emotions over a fortnight. We were quite surprised when we saw the figures and we saw those raw percentages: "the fact that the magnitude of association was so much larger for girls than for boys", said Yvonne Kelly, first author of the study.

"For boys, higher depressive symptom scores were seen among those reporting three or more hours of daily social media use". As per The Guardian, Wessely also stated that it is still hard for the researchers to say "that social media use causes poor mental health, although the evidence is starting to point in that direction".

The researchers said the underlying processes of this phenomenon are not well understood. Teenage girls were likewise increasingly influenced when it came to social media use and worries about self-perception, confidence and appearance, the specialists found, yet here the hole with young men was littler. In turn, depressive symptom scores were higher for girls and boys experiencing poor sleep. Results showed that girls used the social media more than boys and around 40 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys were using it for more than three hours per day. These asked about their social media use and assessed their mental health. They noted than one in two girls and one in four boys had a disrupted sleep "most of the time".

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Among teens, "if their sleep is disturbed, and that's because they're using social media a lot, could you cut back on their social media and improve their sleep?"

He added that he often points his patients' families to the American Academy of Pediatrics for tips on how to establish healthy social media habits in the home.

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

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

"With an impact of social media on social life, the incidence of anxiety and depression is increasing among the adolescents".

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