Data has previously shown that social media is linked to depression in teenage girls, especially. And a new study shows that it may be a lot more complex than experts thought.
The new study was published in the September journal of The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health which involved 10,000 children between the ages of 13 and 16 in the UK and their use of social media.
The results showed that the use of social media doesn’t cause harm but that it’s the frequency of exposure to harmful content especially that of negative cyberbullying that interrupts good activities like sleep and exercise that would other wise have a positive impact on teens’ mental health says, Russell Viner who is with the UCL (University College London) Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in the UK and co-author of the study.
The study showed that too much exposure to social media especially affected teen girls’ mental health as compared to boys whose mental health was impacted due to other reasons.
Social media itself isn’t to blame but over use interrupting sleep quality and physical exercise, while at the same time over-exposing teen users to cyberbullying is what’s leading to teens’feelings of lower well-being and problems with mental health.
Strategies that focus only on reducing social media usage as a means to improve a child’s well-being and mental health isn’t going to be enough, says Bob Patton,who is a lecturer in clinical psychology at the University of Surrey, England.
Other strategies should include increasing a child’s resilienceto cyberbullying and other means of increasing better sleep and exercise behaviors in order to reduce both physical and psychological harm, says Patton.
The study was conducted over a period of two years from 2013 through 2015. Each teen was required to report the frequency that they used social media which included the popular Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and Snapchat. The researchers determined that ‘very frequent’use of these social media platforms was more than three times daily.
Teens’ were asked about their personal well being and any psychological distress such as how satisfied they were with their life, how happy they were or if they were experiencing any anxiety.
The study showed that the content of social media which teens are exposed to is what robs them of good sleep and physical exercise. And we all know that good sleep and physical exercise leads to healthy self esteem for all ages.