Social Media, Television Overkill Leads to Increased Teen Depression

Teens texting

A teenager uses her smartphone

Significant between-person associations indicated that for every increased hour spent using social media, adolescents showed a 0.64-unit increase in depressive symptoms (95% CI, 0.32-0.51).

The long term Canadian study involved 3,800 teens from 2012 to 2018.

"There are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there's also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are living with in person", he said.

It seems that the fancy and exciting lifestyle portrayed by others on social media platforms, led teens to look at their own lives and find both their lives and themselves lacking. Moreover, a similar within-person association was found for television use (0.18; 95% CI, 0.09-0.27).

Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with flawless bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle.

The study of 1,786 girls and 2,028 boys aged 12 to 16 found that if they reported their social media use and television viewing surpassed their overall mean level of use in a given year, then their symptoms also increased that year.

It is not yet clear whether depressed teens seek out sites that add to their depression, or whether algorithms offer sites that add to depresson.

"The biggest surprise for me was that video gaming and depression were not related at all over the course of four years", he said. The main outcome was symptoms of depression and was measured using the Brief Symptoms Inventory.

A new study by Montreal's Sainte-Justine Hospital showed that the time behind the screen, in particular social networks, are associated with depressive symptoms. Consequently, the study also found that time spent playing video games did not contribute to depression in these high school students.

On average, according to the calculations, it was found that teenagers spend 6-7 hours in front of a screen per day.

Now, another research in the fray has come up with concrete data illustrating the ill-effects of social media on the mental health of teenagers.

Scientists said that the idea to conduct such a study arose from them since teenagers spend a lot of time behind the screen, but this theme is not so widely studied. Furthermore, heavier users of social media with depression appear to be more negatively affected by their time spent on social media, potentially by the nature of information that they select, consequently potentially maintaining and enhancing depression over time. The researchers featured their research in JAMA Pediatrics on July 15.

Conrod said more research is needed to tell whether exposure to social media is actually causing elevated rates of depression in young people, but said the study could help design intervention strategies for at-risk youths. Students who rated their depression a 4 were experiencing extreme symptoms while those at zero weren't feeling any depression at all when watching TV or persuing social media.

'This is highly encouraging from a prevention perspective, ' Dr Conrod said.

"Early identification of vulnerability to depression gives clinicians and parents a large window of time in which to intervene", Conrod said.

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