Friday, 22 March, 2019

Link between social media use and mental health stronger in girls

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Anna Jefferson | 07 January, 2019, 17:42

Yvonne Kelly, a professor at the University College London's Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care who co-led the research, urged parents and policymakers to note its results.

In a new paper, researchers analyzed the data of about 1,000 young people from the Millennium Cohort Study to see how social media use affects teenage boys and girls.

Researchers at University College London studied nearly 11,000 14-year-olds. "We looked at sleeping habits; experiences online, so cyberbullying; how they thought about their bodies, or their body image, and whether they were happy with how they looked; and their self-esteem", she said. For example: "more social media use linked to poor sleep which in turn was related to depressive symptoms; experiencing online harassment was linked to poor sleep, poor body image and low self-esteem; and that girls and boys with poor body image were more likely to have low self-esteem".

Eighteen per cent of girls online for one to three hours a day were found to have clinical signs of depression compared to seven per cent of lads. The paper also revealed that 40 percent of girls said that they often had disrupted sleep.

"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.

"The link between social media use and depressive symptoms was stronger for girls compared with boys". About 10 percent of boys surveyed said that they do not use social media at all.

"It's not social media use but excessive social media use that leads to depressive symptoms,"said psychiatrist Dr. Vivian Kapil".

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Researchers found the greater amount of time girls spend on social media at age 14, as well as exposure to online bullying and lack of sleep, were key factors in their mood.

The findings also showed that 12% of light social media users and 38% of heavy social media users (five or more hours a day) showed signs of having more severe (clinically relevant) depression. "My best bet would be the types of things that girls and boys do online", stated Kelly to CNN.

"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".

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. These asked about their social media use and assessed their mental health.

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?"

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

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