New psychological research has suggested that there is a connection between social media usage and symptoms of depression in British teenagers.
The study from University College London also revealed girls use social media for longer than boys and are more likely to be affected by mental health issues.
Results showed that girls who use social media for over five hours daily saw a 50% rise in depression symptoms, whereas boys’ susceptibility increased by 35%.
Researchers analysed data and completed questionnaires from over 10,000 UK-based 14-year-olds.
They looked at four different explanations as to why social media could lead to depression – sleeping habits, cyberbullying, body image and self-esteem.
However, this study only notes a link between online activity and health issues and does not prove an explicit cause and effect.
Lead author Yvonne Kelly speculated as to why the results showed such a significant gender difference. She concluded boys might spend time playing online games whereas girls would use photo-sharing apps, a potentially more toxic environment.
Kelly said to CNN: “In the UK, girls tend to more likely use things like Snapchat or Instagram, which is more based around physical appearance, taking photographs and commenting on those photographs – I think it has to do with the nature of use.”
This research comes out at the same time that the BBC told parents to worry less about how much time their child is looking at a screen.
It was citing leading paediatricians who said as long as children are still exercising regularly, spending time with family and not using devices an hour before bed, then explicit limitations needn’t be put in place.
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