Author: Amy Orciari Herman
Adolescents’ risk for problems like depression and anxiety increases as the amount of time they spend on social media increases, according to a prospective, longitudinal study in JAMA Psychiatry.
Nearly 7000 adolescents answered questions about internalizing problems (e.g., depression, anxiety) and externalizing problems (e.g., bullying, attention issues) when they were aged 12–15 years, reported on their social media use at ages 13–16 years, and then reported on internalizing and externalizing problems again at ages 14–17 years.
After adjustment for past depression and other confounders, those who spent roughly 3 to 6 hours daily on social media were 60% more likely to later experience internalizing problems than those who didn’t use social media. Adolescents who used social media for more than 6 hours daily had a 78% increased risk. Findings for externalizing problems were inconsistent.
As potential mechanisms, the researchers note that greater social media use may result in poor sleep quality and increased risk for cyberbullying.