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Social Media Causes Depression and Anxiety in Teens

Social Media Causes Depression and Anxiety in Teens

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If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. Furthermore, that country would be home to a large amount of teenagers.

A study from Pew Research Center revealed that 92% of teenagers ages 13-17 go online daily. Out of that number, 24% say they are online “almost constantly” and 56% go online several times a day.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, social media platforms are flooding the internet and new ones are emerging every day. Although social media can be a great tool to connect to others around the world and keep up with friends, overusing social media keeps you in the web rather than the real world.

In the world of social media, it is easy to become overwhelmed. With so many different platforms, it’s hard to keep up with everything. Updates are happening all day long at all hours of the day. If you have friends in other parts of the world, you know when it’s night time one place, its daylight in another.

According to a new study, the need to be constantly available and respond 24/7 on social media can cause depression and anxiety, specifically in teenagers. The study focused on the night time use of social media and emotional commitment experienced by those who use it.  Researchers Dr. Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott of the University of Glasgow provided a questionnaire for 467 teenagers regarding their overall night-time specific social media use.

The set of tests measured:

  • Sleep Quality
  • Self Esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional Investment
  • Pressure to be Available 24/7
  • Anxiety about Response Time

In the study, Dr. Cleland Woods explained:

“Adolescence can be a period of increased vulnerability for the onset of depression and anxiety, and poor sleep quality may contribute to this. It is important that we understand how social media use relates to these. Evidence is increasingly supporting a link between social media use and wellbeing, particularly during adolescence, but the causes of this are unclear.”

Upon further analysis, the study revealed that night-specific social media use and emotional investment were the traits most linked to poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem as well as higher anxiety and depression levels.

Cleland Woods continued by explaining that social media use and high emotional investment affects kids because they feel anxious about their ability to be available every second of the day. She noted that parents need to think about the way their kids use social media “in relation to time for switching off.”

The study is being presented today at the British Psychology Society. Evidence supports that there is a link between social media use and wellbeing but the causes of this is unclear.

So how do you manage your teenager’s social media habits? An article suggests four ways to overcome this issue:

  1. Become their “friend”– It might be a good idea to befriend your teen on social media so you can monitor their social media use. Keep in mind though, if your teen isn’t open to this, they may try and hide their social media use from you by making other secret accounts. I know too many friends who did this.
  2. Communication– Talk to your teen about their social media use. Find out how it is affecting them. Keep a close eye on their behavior on social media and how it affects their mental health.
  3. Find Them a Hobby– If your teen is constantly on social media, they may need to find other activities to do that will take up their time and distract them away from the internet. Perhaps have them learn a new instrument or join a fun sports team. Getting active is a great way to divert attention away from social media.
  4. Download a Monitoring App– If all else fails, you may want to look into downloading a monitoring app. Many apps monitor their use of social media via both computer and cell phone.

Social media can be addictive. Articles about social media addiction are coming out on a regular basis. “Digital Detoxes” have become a common place throughout the country. It is easy to get out of control with the social media habit. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

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