Social Media Use May Increase Teens Risk of Mental Health Issues

Young people who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media are susceptible to depression, anxiety and other illnesses and are more likely to internalize bad feelings about themselves, according to the study produced by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Time spent on social media may increase the risk of experiencing cyberbullying, which has a strong association with depressive symptoms,” according to the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, an online platform of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Seeing others’ lives on social media platforms like Snapchat “may also expose adolescents to idealized self-presentations that negatively influence body image and encourage social comparisons.”

Kira E. Riehm, the paper’s lead author and researcher at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, says social media use “has exploded in the past few decades among adolescents.” But it comes at a hazardous time, she says, because “adolescence is a time where a lot of mental health problems have their onsets.”

“It’s important to consider that every minute that adolescents spend on social media, they’re not doing something else,” says Riehm. “It might be socializing (with friends) face to face, it might be exercising” or something else to support their mental health.