Yet another study has found a correlation between excessive social media use and increased risk of mental health issues, especially among teenagers.
A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that spending as little as 30 minutes per day scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms can impact the mental health of young internet users. Spending 3 hours or more on social media may significantly increase a person's risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Mental Health Of Teens And Social Media Use
The researchers assessed the mental health and social media usage of more than 6,500 participants aged 12 to 15 years old and living in the United States. The participants reported how often and how long per day they spend online as well as whether they experience mental health issues.
The findings, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on Tuesday, Sept. 11, revealed that adolescents who spend 3 hours on social media every day have a 60 percent higher risk of mental health problems compared to those who do not use social media at all. Those who are logged into their online accounts for 6 hours or more increase their risk by 78 percent.
Only less than 17 percent of the participants did not use social media throughout the duration of the study. Meanwhile, among those who do, 32 percent spend 30 minutes or less on social media per day, 12 percent said they spend 3 to 6 hours, and 8 percent reported spending more than 6 hours online.
The study also found that about 9 percent or 611 participants experienced internalizing problems such as social withdrawal, difficulty coping with anxiety or depression, or directing feelings inward. About 885 respondents or 14 percent said they experienced externalizing problems, which included aggression, acting out, and disobedience. Over 1,000 of the teens said they experienced both internalizing and externalizing problems, while nearly 4,000 had low or no problem at all.
"Many existing studies have found a link between digital or social media use and adolescent health, but few look at this association across time," stated Kira Riehm, the lead author of the study. "Our study shows that teens who report high levels of time spent on social media are more likely to report internalizing problems a year later."
Is Social Media Use To Blame?
Previous research have linked social media use with an increased risk of mental health problems. A separate study published earlier this year also found evidence that social media use can negatively impact the mental health of teens.
However, Riehm clarified that their findings do not prove that social media use cause mental health issues. They only saw a correlation.
Still, the authors believe that spending less time online would be good for young people.
"Social media has the ability to connect adolescents who may be excluded in their daily life," added Riehm. "We need to find a better way to balance the benefits of social media with possible negative health outcomes."