Parents struggling with concerns over their teens use of social media and screen time, especially during the pandemic, can feel some relief. According to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, daily social media use by adolescents does not raise the risk for depression.
There was no compelling evidence that social media use and depression are linked in teens
These findings, which contradict popular wisdom, are the result of research conducted by a team at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. First author Noah Kreski explains,
While some adults have voiced concerns over the potential mental health risks of this behavior, our research finds no compelling evidence to suggest that social media use meaningfully increases adolescents’ risk of depressive symptoms.Noah Kreski, MPH
The survey data was collected by Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study of the attitudes, behaviors and values of almost 75,000 8th and 10th grade Americans from adolescence through adulthood, between 2009 and 2017.
Over the 8 years that were observed, daily social media among girls increased from 61% to 89% and from 46% to 75% among boys. The findings showed that daily social media use was not correlated with symptoms of depression after accounting for the fact that the students who frequently use social media have worse mental health to begin with.
Use of social media has positive and negative effects
Senior author and associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, Katherine Keyes, PhD explains that,
Daily social media use does not capture the diverse ways in which adolescents use social media, which may be both positive and negative depending on the social context.Dr. Katherine Keyes
The study is a good reminder that social media and networking sites can also provide connection and humor, which could be especially valuable to teens who are depressed.
More to Read:
Why Stress and Anxiety Can Be Healthy for Teens Psychologist, Dr. Lisa Damour, explains why a healthy amount of stress and anxiety are good for teens to experience.