January 19, 2019

Higher use of social media linked to depression in girls

07 January 2019, 05:38 | Rodolfo Wallace

Social Media-Depression Link In Teen Girls

Social Media Linked to Higher Risk of Depression in Teen Girls Study

The Royal Society for Public Health said the study showed it was important to increase the awareness of parents, schools and policy makers on the role of social media in kids' mental health.

It found that many girls spend far more time on social media than boys and they are much more likely to display signs of depression linked to their interaction on platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook.

Researchers from University College London in the United Kingdom analysed data from almost 11,000 young people and found that 14-year-old girls were heavier users of social media with two fifths of them using it for more than three hours per day compared with one fifth of boys.

"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", Kelly said. Symptoms of depression were measured using the Moods and Feelings Questionnaire. Anxiety and poor sleep are both linked to depression. "All of those four things - the sleep, the cyberharassment, the body image or happiness with appearance, and the self-esteem - they are all linked with the risk of having depression". About 10 percent of boys surveyed said that they do not use social media at all.

Yet the study, conducted in the United Kingdom, showed only an association between social media use and symptoms of depression, which can include feelings of unhappiness, restlessness or loneliness.

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As many as three-quarters of 14-year-old girls who suffer from depression also have low self-esteem, are unhappy with how they look and sleep for seven hours or less each night, the study found.

"Clinical, educational and family settings are all potential points of contact where young people could be encouraged and supported to reflect not only on their social media use, but also other aspects of their lives including online experiences and their sleep patterns". These asked about their social media use and assessed their mental health. This was in comparison with teenagers who used it for one to three hours/day. Social media could be blamed for the sleep disruption say the authors of the study.

Researchers led by Yvonne Kelly from the University College London (UCL) found that nearly 40 per cent of girls who spend more than five hours a day on social media show symptoms of depression, Xinhua news agency reported. These adolescents often sleep with their phones by their bedside and are woken up by the social media alerts.

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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