A 10-year study just proved a dangerous link between teens and social media
Social media can be fun.
It provides us with connection and community and inspiration.
However, we all know by now that it is now all rosy. That social media, and the way we interact with it, also has its dark sides. Maybe especially so when it comes to teenagers and young people, who have never known a world without it.
And just how problematic social media can be to young people, has now been proven in some alarming new research.
An intense, 10-year study, conducted by the Brigham Young University, has just proven that there's a significant correlation between the use of social media in teens and increased suicide rates.
The study, which followed 500 teens beginning at the age of 13, and continuing for a 10-year period, is one of the longest studies of it's kind that has ever been reported. "We wanted to look at over the whole course of adolescence," said lead researcher and BYU professor, Sarah Coyne about the research.
"Most studies just look at a kind of a single snapshot in time."
According to KJZZ News, this groundbreaking study reveals with clarity that, "the more time teens spend on social media, the more likely some are to have an increased suicide risk."
One thing the researchers noted was that the risk to young girls seems to be higher than that of young boys. The study also revealed that usage among teenage girls continued to increase over time, whereas with boys, their usage per day seemed to be more consistent.
However, the effects of social media with this age group overall are clear, and the results are rather alarming news to parents across the world.
According to Dr Jamie Zelazny, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, digital experiences among adolescents may significantly impact their mental health and well-being.
Speaking at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Annual Conference in October last year, Dr Zelazny noted that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among individuals aged 10 to 24 years. Further, suicide rates have tripled among youth aged 10 to 14 years, as well as among girls, and suicide rates are significantly higher among African American children younger than 13 years.
Rising suicide rates in these demographic groups have coincided with rising rates of social media use.
“A study published in 2015 found that the threshold for where kids start to have more mental health problems is the 2-hour mark,” Zelazny said during the presentation.
“Teens who reported using social media sites more than 2 hours a day were much more likely to report poor mental health outcomes like distress and suicidal ideation. A study done the following year found that problematic internet use resulted in poor mental health outcomes longitudinally, and these were mediated by poor sleep.”
Other similar studies have suggested that social media use among teens is linked to low self-esteem, poor body image and risk-taking behaviours. Moreover, social comparison and cyberbullying have been associated with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among adolescents.