Social media use does not lead to depression and anxiety in teens

A new study from Brigham Young University found that the amount of time spent on social media does not directly increase anxiety and depression in adolescents. The corresponding article was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior .  

The amount of time teens spend on social media has increased 62.5% since 2012 and continues to grow. Last year alone, the average time teenagers spent on social media was estimated at 2.6 hours a day. Critics have argued that increased screen time increases the risks of depression and anxiety in adolescents.

However, a new longitudinal study, for which scientists collected data over eight years, shows that there is no clear correlation between the two factors. In their work, the researchers analyzed 500 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 20 who completed questionnaires once a year. To measure depression and anxiety, participants answered questions, and scientists rated responses using various scales that indicate depression symptoms and levels of anxiety.

At the age of 13, teens spent an average of 31 minutes to an hour a day on social media. These average levels steadily increased, so that by age 20 they were over two hours a day. This rise in social media activity, however, did not predict future mental health status.

According to scientists, conditions such as depression and anxiety are complex enough that they cannot be attributed to social media alone. This is a multifactorial process in which time spent on social media is not the only one.

However, in order to prevent possible negative influences from excessive use of social media, scientists recommend three ways: be active, not passive (not just scroll , but comment on posts and publish content); stop going to social networks at least an hour before bedtime; use social networks for any purpose, and not just like that.

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