Social media use among teens is on the increase, and the negative effects are hurting girls more than boys
By Jennifer Hughes
The consistent use of smartphones and social media among teens is growing, and it seems to have negative accents on their mental health, especially among girls, according to a recent report published in the British medical journal by The Lancet.
According to the study, which surveyed 10,000 teens between the ages of 13-16 from 2013 to 2015 in England, the regular use of Facebook and Instagram can lead to trouble sleeping, reduced physical activity, and increased psychological distress and cyberbullying.
The report interviewed the teens about their online habits and asked how often they checked social media. While over 50% of girls and 43% of boys admitted to using social media several times a day in 2013, those numbers rose to 68% and 51% in 2014 and 75% and 69% in 2015, respectively.
Participants were asked about life satisfaction, happiness, and anxiety. The report discovered that cyberbullying was more widespread among teen girls.
“Our results suggest that social media itself doesn’t cause harm, but that frequent use may disrupt activities that have a positive impact on mental health such as sleeping and exercising, while increasing exposure of young people to harmful content, particularly the negative experience of cyber-bullying,” said lead researcher Professor Russel Viner of University College London.
The problem isn’t limited to teens in the United Kingdom. The British supports a recent study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, which examined 13- to 17-year olds in Ontario and suggested a link between the use of social media and mental illness.