Social media’s excessive use damaging mental health, study

By Syed Umarullah Hussaini - Web Editor

11th February, 2020

A new study has revealed that Smartphones, social media apps Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and the like may be taking a big toll on teens’ mental health.

Study carried out by Canadian researchers pored over dozens of studies and said the negative effects of social media on teens’ well-being on the rise.

Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude who lead this study said “Physicians, teachers and families need to work together with youth to decrease possible harmful effects of smartphones and social media on their relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being,”

He’s a staff psychiatrist at The Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital, both in Toronto.

Social media “addiction” is also an emerging problem,

Several cross-sectional studies have shown that high proportions of youth appear to addicted to their smartphones,” the Canadian researchers said.

Seven other studies suggest that this kind of heavy reliance on smartphones is tied to a higher risk for suicidal thoughts or self-harm in school-age kids and teens, they added.

Numerous studies have also found that as hours per day increase on smartphones, laptops and other “screens,” rates of happiness, life satisfaction and self-esteem fall.

Excessive screen time also seems to be eroding teens’ ability to get good sleep, which might also have negative mental health effects.

The findings published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Research Findings

Abi-Jaoude’s team stressed that an all-out ban on kids’ smartphone use probably won’t help.

And in some respects the internet might even be of some benefit to teens seeking information on mental health.

“For adolescents today, who have not known a world without social media, digital interactions are the norm, and [there are] potential benefits of online access to productive mental health information,” Abi-Jaoude said in a journal news release.

Those benefits include “media literacy, creativity, self-expression, sense of belonging and civic engagement

As well as low barriers to resources such as crisis lines and internet-based talking therapies,” he said.

However, excessive internet use may pose hazards.

Therefore, the researchers suggest doctors should advise teens to reduce their social media use rather than stop it completely.

And should encourage parents to be part of such conversations.

Parents should talk with teens about appropriate smartphone use and work with them to reduce risks and set boundaries.

They should also set a good example for smartphone use. Schools should develop appropriate smartphone use policies.

Many teens might agree:

One recent poll found that 54% of U.S. teens think they spend too much time on their smartphones

About half said they’re cutting back on usage.

“Encouragingly, youth are increasingly recognizing the negative impact of social media on their lives.”

“Starting to take steps to mitigate it,” the authors wrote.

Two experts unconnected to the new study agreed that social media is having an impact on teens’ mental health.

According to researchers, “Physicians need to counsel parents to monitor and limit smartphone use, especially on social media.”


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