Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Social media linked to higher risk of depression in teen girls

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Johnnie Parks | 07 January, 2019, 17:39

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

For the study, the team interviewed nearly 11,000 girls, who are 14-year-old.

Increased social media use may develop depressive symptoms in Teenage girls, essentially because of disturbed sleep and online harassment, and additionally lower self-esteem and poor body image, scientists said on Friday.

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.

For example, while 7.5 per cent of 14-year-old girls and 4.3 per cent of 14-year-old boys have been the victim of online harassment, 35.6 per cent of girls who are depressed have experienced that - double the 17.4 per cent of boys who have done so.

"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.

Additionally, they completed a Moods and Feelings Questionnaire - a widely validated internationally used screening (not diagnostic) tool for depressive symptoms. Poor sleep has always been associated with depressive symptoms.

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"It is likely that excessive use of social media does lead to poorer confidence and mental health", says Stephen Scott, director of the National Academy for Parenting Research at King's College London.

Girls were found more likely to have low self-esteem and body weight dissatisfaction and be unhappy with their appearance, than boys.

"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".

In other words, those experiences were tied to frequent social media use, which means they could play a role in the depressive symptoms.

Dr. Gary Maslow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Duke Health and assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said the study finding of four factors related to social media use and depressive symptoms was interesting.

The study also found that 12 percent of light social media users and 38 percent of heavy social media users (at least five hours a day) showed signs of having more severe depression.

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