Increasing social media use is tied to rise in teen depressive symptoms
"There are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there's also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are living with in person", he said. The study, which was conducted from 2012 until 2018, found that increased screen time, especially on social media, led to an increase in depressive symptoms. The study examined the behaviour of over 3,800 subjects from grade seven to grade 11 who spent six to seven hours in front of a screen each day. The link between female depression and screen time seemed to be stronger than it was within males, as was the association between screen time and depression for adolescents with a lower versus higher socioeconomic status, Boers and his team reported.
Boers and colleagues found that for television, increased use was associated with a decline in the severity of depression symptoms in a between-person analysis (-0.22, 95% CI -0.40 to -0.05), but in a within-person analysis, increasing television use by one hour within a given year was associated with a 0.18-unit increase (95% CI 0.09-0.27) in depressive symptoms. "For this reason, the study does not allow us to conclude that social media use causes depression", she said.
Elroy Boers, post-doctoral researcher a Universite de Montreal's department of psychiatry, said: "Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with flawless bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle". Same goes for television when it was above the average. They specified the amount of time spent participating in four different types of screen activities: social media, television, video gaming and computer use.
According to this study, increases in social media use and television use indicates increases in symptoms of teen depression.
Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with flawless bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle.
The researchers did caution that their work did face limitations.
'Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with flawless bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle, ' said lead study author Dr Elroy Boers, a post-doctoral psychiatry researcher. The main outcome was symptoms of depression and was measured using the Brief Symptoms Inventory.
Boers is a post-doctoral researcher in the department of psychiatry at the university.
Thus, the more time adolescents spend on social media and in front of the television, the more severe their symptoms of depression become. However, an increase in video gaming wasn't found to be a predictor for depression.
In contrast, high levels of computer use were linked with higher severity of depression across the four-year period (0.69-unit increase, 95% CI 0.47-0.91), but increased computer use within the year was not associated with increased depressive symptoms, they added.
'Early identification of vulnerability to depression gives clinicians and parents a large window of time in which to intervene, ' Dr Conrod said.