Social media worsens depression amongst girls

Long-term study reveals greater social media use is linked to higher risk of depression in girls.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Social media worsens depression amongst girls - NewsMavens
Teenager with phone, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

It's no mystery that social media has an impact on people's lives, with many relying on it for communication, aspiration and validation. However, the downsides of high-frequency social media use are increasingly explicit.

A long-term British study has found that girls are more likely to experience worsened depression through exposure to social media than boys.

The study of 11,000 14-year-olds found the much-higher rates of depression for girls was linked to the larger amount of time they spend on social media, lack of sleep and online bullying.

Details from the story:

  • The Millennium Cohort study found social media exposure worsens depression amongst children, especially girls.
  • Around three-quarters of 14-year-old girls have low self-esteem, have sleeping problems and don't like their appearance, all factors made worse by increased social media use, according to the research findings.
  • Girls used social media more than boys, the study found, while they were more likely to exhibit worsened depressive symptoms linked to greater use of social media platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook.
  • It also found girls with depression were more than twice as likely as boys with the same symptoms of depression to spend more than five hours a day on social media.
  • "Girls, it seems, are struggling with these aspects of their lives more than boys, in some cases considerably so," said Prof Yvonne Kelly of University College London, who is leading the study.
  • The findings were based on interviews with approximately 11,000 14-year-olds, who were part of a major research project into children’s lives in the UK, the Millennium Cohort Study. It tracks the lives of more than 19,000 British children born in 2000-2001, analysing factors such as poverty, education, parenting and, of course, health and mental health.
  • The study is funded mostly by the Economic and Social Research Council and an association of Government departments.
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