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Is Social Media to blame for the increase in depression and anxiety in teens? It’s really hard to tell, given that engagement in social media is a fairly new phenomenon. We did some research and decided to share what we’ve found surrounding this important issue. These findings do not show causation, but the issues outlined in this article have shown statistical correlations and meaningful associations. 

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years in young people. They have adverse consequences on adolescent development. When teens are depressed, they are more likely to drop out of school, engage in substance abuse, and have trouble with social relationships. Depression and anxiety are also correlated with mental health problems and suicide.  

What The Research Says About Social Media Use and Depression and Anxiety

Research has also shown a correlation between social media use and psychological problems. Factors that have been found to influence this link are:

  • Impaired sleep
  • Internet use as a sedentary behavior, where sedentary behavior has a negative effect on mental health in young people
  • Online multitasking predicts symptoms of mental disorders
  • The number of social media accounts is correlated with the level of anxiety, due to overwhelming demand

Young people have a tendency to compare themselves to others. They evaluate their own opinion, abilities, and self-worth in a vicious cycle of comparison. For example, studies indicate that passive Facebook users are more likely to engage in this social comparison. This creates envy and often leads to depression.

You Can Still Use Social Media and Avoid Depression and Anxiety

So what can we do to avoid depression and anxiety while still using social media? There is some research in favor of teens using social media. Some studies find that social media enables teens to form new friendships and strengthen bonds with existing friends. This is important, especially in light of the recent stay-at-home orders. The proper use of social media can reduce social isolation and loneliness, and improve mental health. 

Studies show that teens with low social support are more likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety as well as psychological distress. Teens with high social support from family, friends and neighbors are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Signs point to the quality of social support being more important than quantity.

Steps to Take

So how do we make social media a tool to use to better our mental state? It is clear that conversations between parents and their children. Teens must be informed about using social media properly and in proper amounts of time. With moderate use, teens can use their apps to form new friendships and keep in touch with old friends. It is also important to keep a moderate amount of accounts and not overdo it, having multiple social media accounts to keep up with tends to cause stress and anxiety.

There are also apps that can be used to keep track of nutrition and exercise. In addition, there are apps to help us be present and help with our emotional well-being. Using social media properly can help us maintain good mental, physical, and psychological health. The key is to be aware of how you’re using social media and how long you are on. Make sure to keep track of the thoughts that are going through your head while you see other people’s posts.

TIPS TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN A HEALTHY WAY

  • Limit the number of accounts you have
  • Limit the amount of time you spend 
  • Be aware of how you are using it
  • Be aware of thoughts in your head (Beware of comparing yourself to others)
  • Use it mainly to keep in touch with family and friends
  • Or to form new friendships with real people (not people you’ve never met in person)
  • Use apps that motivate you to exercise and eat well
  • Use apps that help you sleep well, relax, and meditate

For more tips for Teens and Parents, look at our other blogs.