Study: Time spent on social media not related to teen anxiety, depression

Study: Time spent on social media not related to teen anxiety, depression

PanARMENIAN.Net - The amount of time teenagers spend on social networking sites has risen 62.5 percent since 2012 and continues to grow. Just last year, the average time teenagers spent on social media was estimated as 2.6 hours per day. Critics have claimed that more screen time is increasing depression and anxiety in teenagers.

However, new research led by Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, found that the amount of time spent on social media is not directly increasing anxiety or depression in teenagers, Science Daily reports.

"We spent eight years trying to really understand the relationship between time spent on social media and depression for developing teenagers," Coyne said about her study published in Computers in Human Behavior. "If they increased their social media time, would it make them more depressed? Also, if they decreased their social media time, were they less depressed? The answer is no. We found that time spent on social media was not what was impacting anxiety or depression."

Mental health is a multi-process syndrome where no one stressor is likely the cause of depression or anxiety. This study shows that it is not merely the amount of time spent on social media that's leading to an increase in depression or anxiety among adolescents.

"It's not just the amount of time that is important for most kids. For example, two teenagers could use social media for exactly the same amount of time but may have vastly different outcomes as a result of the way they are using it," Coyne said.

The goal of this study is to help society as a whole move beyond the screen time debate and instead to examine the context and content surrounding social media use.

Coyne has three suggestions to use social media in healthier ways.

Be an active user instead of a passive user. Instead of just scrolling, actively comment, post and like other content.

Limit social media use at least an hour before falling asleep. Getting enough sleep is one of the most protective factors for mental health.

Be intentional. Look at your motivations for engaging with social media in the first place.

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