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More Evidence Links Social Media Use to Poorer Mental Health in Teens

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

Smartphones, and being on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and the like may be taking a big toll on teens' mental health, a new survey of collected data on the subject shows.

Canadian researchers pored over dozens of studies and said the negative effects of social media on teens' well-being is on the rise.

"Physicians, teachers, and families need to work together with youth to decrease possible harmful effects of smartphones and social media on their relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being," said study lead author Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude. He's a staff psychiatrist at The Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital, both in Toronto.

As part of their research, Abi-Jaoude and his colleagues uncovered patterns across multiple studies. For example:

  • In one U.S. study, the rate at which kids and teens arrive in hospitals due to suicidal thoughts or attempts "almost doubled between 2008 and 2015, with the highest increase among adolescent girls," the researchers noted.
  • U.S. overdose rates for young people ages 10 to 18, which has previously been on the decline, "increased substantially from 2011 to 2018, primarily among girls," another study found.
  • At the same time "the proportion of [U.S.] young people who between the ages of 13 and 17 years who have a smartphone has reached 89%, more than doubling over a 6-year period," the data review said. At the same time, "70% of teenagers use social media multiple times per day, up from a third of teens in 2012."

Of course, it's tough to tell whether this rise in social media and smartphone use is actually causing an increase in rates of mental health issues among teens.

However, other data seems to suggest it might be.

For example, the Canadian researchers pointed to two studies -- one conducted in the United States, the other in Germany -- which found that kids who spent more time on Facebook were more prone to negative states such as envy and insecurity about their status, compared to others in their online network. Much of this was centered around "FOMO" -- fear of missing out, those studies showed.

Source: HealthDay

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