"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 team interviewed around 11,000 14 year olds who were part of the Millennium Cohort Study. This is mainly due to online harassment and disturbed sleep, as well as poor body image and lower self-esteem, according to new University College London research. Social Media Linked To Teen Depression "The link between social media use and depressive symptoms was stronger for girls compared with boys", stated Yvonne Kelly, a professor at the University College London Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care.
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. For girls, greater daily hours of social media use corresponded to a stepwise increase in depressive symptoms. Their depressive moods could directly be correlated with the time they spent on social media platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. While one in 10 boys do not use social media at all, only 4 per cent of girls said the same.
Girls were also twice as likely to suffer from sleep issues, which researchers believe among other things could be caused by staying up late on social media and being awoken by push alerts.
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As many as three-quarters of 14-year-old girls who suffer from depression also have low self-esteem, are unhappy with how they look and sleep for seven hours or less each night, the study found.
The team of researchers found that about 40 percent of girls, who spend more than five hours on social media, develop symptoms of depression.
The researchers "still can not definitely say that social media use causes poor mental health, although the evidence is starting to point in that direction", The Guardian quoted Wessely as saying. Among teenagers who had perpetrated online bullying, 32.8 per cent of girls and 7.9 per cent of boys were depressed. As adolescents start excess use of social media, their social interaction time gets reduced and they spend more time alone. The examination, supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), was distributed online in the diary EClinicalMedicine on Friday. These asked about their social media use and assessed their mental health.
Social media is a fact of life for today's teenagers, though little is known about the impact of long-term exposure to its less than desirable aspects: cyberbullying, impossible beauty standards and violent content.