It might be time to get off Twitter and go outside. That’s according to a new study, anyway, which found that teenagers who use social media sites for more than two hours every day are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression.
The study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, analysed data collected from 750 students for the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey.
And researchers found a clear link between frequent social media use and increased chances of mental health problems, including psychological distress and suicidal thoughts.
That isn’t to say that youngsters using social media on a regular basis will become depressed (as long as they stay away from Donald Trump’s timeline anyway), but rather that if children are using social networks like Facebook and Twitter frequently, it should be a red flag to parents or carers that action might be needed to help the child.
The study also advised that public and mental health bodies should invest more in engaging young people on these platforms in order to address mental health issues more effectively.
The study said:
Given that youth with poor mental health are spending significant time on social networking sites (SNSs), public health and other service providers may be able to reach a key vulnerable population if they also engage youth on SNSs with health promotion approaches and supports.
While the use of social networking sites is obviously not an explanation for the occurrence of mental health problems, the researchers did note that high amounts of screen time could be part of a complex relationship of factors, including sedentary behaviour.