Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Study links social media use to higher risk of depression

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Celia Hoffman | 06 January, 2019, 04:14

They say teenage girls are twice as likely to show depressive symptoms as boys.

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

The results prompted renewed concern about the rapidly accumulating evidence that many more girls and young women exhibit a range of mental health problems than boys and young men, and about the damage these can cause, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

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. While one in 10 boys do not use social media at all, only 4 per cent of girls said the same.

So what's the connection between social media use and depression?

Rising suicide rates and depression in USA teens and young adults have prompted researchers to ask a provocative question: Could the same devices that some people blame for contributing to tech-age angst also be used to detect it? In turn, depressive symptom scores were higher for girls and boys experiencing poor sleep.

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

Kelly and her colleagues found that 14-year-old girls are heavier social media users than 14-year-old boys. About 40 percent of the girls surveyed experienced online harassment compared to only 25 percent of boys. Social media use was proportionately related to less sleep, taking more time to fall asleep and more disruptions during sleep. The examination, supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), was distributed online in the diary EClinicalMedicine on Friday.

"Inevitably there is the chicken and egg question, as to whether more dissatisfied children, who to begin with are less pleased with their body shape and have fewer friends then spend more time on social media".

"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", Professor Kelly said.

"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.

Social media and internet companies have been criticised for not acknowledging the impact their services have on the lives of young people.

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