Thursday, 20 June, 2019


Link between social media use and mental health stronger in girls

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Patty Aguilar | 07 January, 2019, 17:42

However, the rate is much lower for boys, which is less than 15 per cent.

"For boys, higher depressive symptom scores were seen among those reporting three or more hours of daily social media use". And where else are they likely to be bombarded with images of unattainable physiques than social media?

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. Uneasiness and sleep rest are both connected to despondency.

When examining differences between girls and boys who spend the same amount of time on social media, the researchers found the stronger association between social media use and depressive symptoms for girls.

Study leader Professor Yvonne Kelly said: "Families may want to reflect on when and where it's OK to be on social media and agree time limits". Their findings are published on Friday in EClinicalMedicine, a journal published by The Lancet. 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. "For girls, greater daily hours of social media use corresponded to a stepwise increase in depressive symptoms", explained Kelly.

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. Social media use was proportionately related to less sleep, taking more time to fall asleep and more disruptions during sleep. "Nonetheless, it is likely that excessive use of social media does lead to poorer confidence and mental health", said Stephen Scott, director of the national academy for parenting research at the institute of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience at King's College London. The data, which came from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, included information from questionnaires on the teens' depressive symptoms and social media use. They found that on average, girls had higher depressive symptom scores compared with boys.

The study had some limitations, including that the findings show only a correlation between depressive symptoms and social media use, not a causal relationship.

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

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. The participants had to agree or disagree to statements such as, "I felt miserable or unhappy", "I felt so exhausted I just sat around and did nothing" and "I didn't enjoy anything at all".

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