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Higher use of social media linked to depression in girls

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Gustavo Carr | 07 January, 2019, 17:39

Washington D.C. [USA], Jan 06 (ANI): Social media has a greater impact on teen girls than boys of the same age, a study has observed.

They found that two-fifths of girls have suffered online harassments or online bullying compared to one-quarter of boys.

They found on analysis that 12 percent of the light social media users and 38 percent of the heavy social media users were suffering from symptoms of depression. Anxiety and poor sleep are both linked to depression.

"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", she said in a statement. The researchers write, "The most important pathways were via poor sleep and online harassment". Their depressive moods could directly be correlated with the time they spent on social media platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook.

Doctors say that excessive social media usage affects social relationships and participation in community life. In comparison, only 4 percent of girls surveyed stay off of apps such as Instagram and Snapchat.

For example, almost 40 percent of girls who spent more than five hours a day on apps such as Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp also showed signs of depression, compared with 14.5 percent of boys.

Girls were also more affected when it came to social media use and concerns about body image, self-esteem and appearance, the researchers found, but here the gap with boys was smaller. Among teenagers who had perpetrated online bullying, 32.8 per cent of girls and 7.9 per cent of boys were depressed.

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Shannon McLaughlin, 18, from Blackburn, explained how social media has harmed her mental health. As adolescents start excess use of social media, their social interaction time gets reduced and they spend more time alone. Again, girls who showed signs of depression were also twice as likely to have been victims of online harassment. "When it comes to depression, girls are more vulnerable".

"For boys, higher depressive symptom scores were seen among those reporting three or more hours of daily social media use".

Among teens, "if their sleep is disturbed, and that's because they're using social media a lot, could you cut back on their social media and improve their sleep?"

"For me, the sleep one is probably the most actionable in some ways", said Maslow, who was not involved in the research.

One tip is to set up a charging station in the home, he said, so cell phones are not charged in the bedroom, which can lead to distractions and sleep interruptions.

"It's a balance, because there are benefits to engagement with media". "So it's finding that sweet spot".