March 26, 2019

Social Media Affects Teen Girls More Than Boys

06 January 2019, 04:16 | Silvia Roy

Social Media Affects Teen Girls More Than Boys

Girl with phone

Spending hours on the likes of Facebook and Instagram can cause low self-esteem and problems concentrating and sleeping.

"The link between social media use and depressive symptoms was stronger for girls compared with boys".

In a new paper, researchers analyzed the data of about 1,000 young people from the Millennium Cohort Study to see how social media use affects teenage boys and girls.

It found that two in five girls are on social media at least three hours a day compared to a fifth of their male peers.

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Rising suicide rates and depression in USA teens and young adults have prompted researchers to ask a provocative question: Could the same devices that some people blame for contributing to tech-age angst also be used to detect it?

The investigation likewise discovered that 12 percent of light social media users and 38 percent of substantial social media users hinted at having increasingly extreme despondency. Regardless of length of time, girls were consistently about twice as likely to be depressed in relation to their social media use. When it came to body image, self-esteem and appearance - while more girls were affected, the gap with boys was not as great.

The study suggests that 40% of girls had experienced online harassment or bullying compared to 25% of boys, while 40% of girls reported their sleep often being disrupted compared to 28% of boys. Social media use was proportionately related to less sleep, taking more time to fall asleep and more disruptions during sleep.

Both factors can trigger depressive symptoms, the researchers said.

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Government ministers and Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, have called on social media companies to do much more to limit the amount of time young people spend using their platforms. While just 5.4 per cent of girls and 2.7 per cent of boys overall said they slept for seven hours or less, 48.4 per cent of girls with low mood and 19.8 per cent of such boys said the same.

"At home, families may want to reflect on when and where it's OK to be on social media and agree limits for time spent online".

"Curfews for use and the overnight removal of mobile devices from bedrooms might be something to consider".

The extent to which social media has embedded itself into the daily lives of people can not be understated.

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The researchers said the underlying processes of this phenomenon are not well understood. The examination, supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), was distributed online in the diary EClinicalMedicine on Friday.

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