Does Social Media Contribute to Depression?

Photo: Harland Quarrington/MOD [OGL (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/1/)], via Wikimedia

Sometimes the pressures to be on social media at all times and to respond to different tweets, texts and posts can cause a teenager to experience anxiety and depression. The need to be “connected” 24/7 on social media accounts specifically during the evening, can lead to an emotional investment that causes poor sleep, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression.

The Study

In a study presented on September 15th, 2015, at the British Psychological Society conference in Manchester, England, social media accounts and teen depression were discussed. Researchers, Dr. Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott of the University of Glasgow provided 467 teenagers with questionnaires about their overall social media usage, particularly in the evening or night.

A further set of tests measured sleep quality, anxiety, emotional investment and depression. Teens reported feeling anxious with the need to be readily available 24/7 and the anxiety was related to not responding to posts or texts immediately.

The teams analysis proved that overall and night time social media use along with the emotional investment were directly related to poor sleep habits, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression.

Lead study researcher Dr. Cleland Woods stated, “While overall social media use impacts on sleep quality, those who log on at night appear to be particularly affected. This may be mostly true of individuals who are highly emotionally invested. This means we have to think about how our kids use social media, in relation to time for switching off.”

Limiting Internet Use in Kids

For the most part, the internet can be an entertaining and rewarding place for kids and teens. However, there are always risks concerning privacy and personal safety. While on the internet, a child can run into predators, bullies and disturbing information and images. Even worse, if your child comes in contact with a predator, he or she may be convinced into meeting the person face-to-face with horrible consequences.

Social networking sites are starting to put additional safeguards in place, but it’s also important for parents to do their due diligence. Security software and parental controls only offer so much protection. As a parent, you should be acutely aware of the risks and dangers posed to your child as they are online. It’s important to limit your child’s internet time to when you can be there to supervise and to engage your children about the importance of internet safety, because these are the most important things you can do to keep your child safe.

If you don’t know who your child is speaking to online or he or she has a social network page full of strangers, it’s important for you to act now. You may feel like the “bad guy” for policing your child’s social networking and internet activities, but children need guidance, structure and limitations, because as the results of this study prove, anxiety and depression may result if they are left to their own devices and unsupervised.

 
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