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Social media is making teen girls depressed, study says

If there is one gift that technology blessed the human race with, it is the invention of smartphones and social media. There is something enthralling about feeling connected with every one you know and being updated in their life. In fact, recent statistics show that an American teenager spend an average of 9 hours on various social media networking sites.

But a study published by Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine journal shows a strong connection between depression in female teenagers and excessive exposure to social media. Perhaps, now that 2019 has begun, teenage girls might have to include limiting their time spent using social media in their new year’s resolution.

According to the data they have gathered from more than 11,000 14-year-olds in the United Kingdom, the researchers discovered that teenage girls use social media more frequently than boys. Thus, they are also likely to be depressed because of too much social media exposure.

Based on the gathered data, about 40 percent of teenage girls who spend more than 5 hours of their time on Facebook, Snapchat, and WhatsApp manifested signs of depression. Meanwhile, the same symptoms only manifest on 14.5 percent of teenage boys. It seems that they are twice as likely to be depressed because of what they see in social media.

The research conducted by the University College London, shows that the clinically relevant depressive symptoms shown in 40% of teenage girls is due to the effects of social media to one’s mental and physical health. Because of the addictive nature of Social media, teenagers stay up late at night.

Meanwhile, their sleep is also disrupted by the sound of the notifications they are receiving in their phone. And although lack of sleep does not cause depression, still, it plays a big role in the development of the alarming mental health issue.

In addition, excessive social media usage exposes teenage girls to online harassment and cyber-bullying. Also, social media plays a big role in the perception of beauty and body image of women. Since social media sites are filled with ideal beauty and body standards, teenagers are becoming more insecure of their own skin. Thus, study shows that they tend to adhere to these beauty standards leading to the development of eating disorders and poor self-esteem.

“These findings are highly relevant to current policy development on guidelines for the safe use of social media and calls on industry to more tightly regulate hours of social media use for young people.” Professor Yvonne Kelly of University College London’s Epidemiology and Health Care department calls for authority to do something about their findings.

Because their findings shows the alarming effect of unregulated exposure to social media, the researchers are hoping that authorities should observe the number of hours spent in social media by teenagers. They believe that social media sites would be able to take better responsibility over the effects that their sites bring to the life of their users.

“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 on-line experiences and their sleep patterns.” Professor Yvonne Kelly further explained.

They are also calling for the parents of the teenagers to set a rule that would limit their child’s exposure to social media.

“Curfews for use and the overnight removal of mobile devices from bedrooms might also be something to consider.” Professor Yvonne Kelly advised.

According to PsychCentral, 20 percent of teenagers all over the world suffer from depression. And in the US alone, about 3,000 teenagers attempt to commit suicide due to depression every year.  If, indeed, excessive exposure to social media sites contribute to depression, then it is about time to limit the hours spent on it since it is no longer healthy to our mental health.

(Note: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only and not to be treated as a professional opinion or diagnosis.)


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