Increasing social media use tied to rise in symptoms of depression, study says

CNN: Do your teenagers spend a lot of time on social media? Are they glued to TV a lot, too? It might be a good idea to have them unplug for a while.

A new study suggests a link between heavy amounts of screen time and depression. The study, published yesterday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, says that for every additional hour young people spend on social media or watching TV, the severity of depressive symptoms goes up within that same year. “To our knowledge, the present study is the first to present a developmental analysis of variations in depression and various types of screen time,” researchers wrote.

The study included 3,826 students in seventh to 11th grade from 31 schools in the Montreal area in Canada. Between 2012 and 2018, the students were asked to complete surveys during class to assess their screen time behaviors and symptoms of depression.
Screen time was measured by asking students how much time per day they spent playing video games, using social media, watching television and using a computer.
Depression symptoms were measured by asking students to indicate on a scale — from zero (not at all) to four (very much) — to what extent they experience seven known symptoms of depression, such as feelings of loneliness, sadness or hopelessness. Those symptoms were measured as units.
Social media can be a helpful tool for preteens and teens to learn and connect with friends, but experts recommend it be used in moderation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents place consistent limits on how many hours per day their preteens or teens spend using screens.
Moreover, the academy recommends that screen time should not interfere with young people’s daily exercise and sleep; it’s recommended to avoid exposure to devices or screen for one hour before bedtime.
Dr. Gary Maslow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Duke Health and assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said in January that he often points his patients’ families to the American Academy of Pediatrics for tips on how to establish healthy social media habits at home.



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