Social media use linked to depression in teens

For plenty of teenagers, a chunk of time is spent daily catching up with friends on social media. Now new research is sounding the alarm, linking increased social media use with the development of depression symptoms in teens and pre-teens.

A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that for every additional hour young people reported spending on social media, the severity of depressive symptoms they experienced went up.

Chris Cashen, behavioral health coordinator for OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center, says the findings aren’t surprising.

“The amount of referrals to social workers, counselors, etc. over the past several years has gone up tremendously, and much of it is related to social media,” Cashen says. “Conflict creates emotional distress, which if somebody is somewhat vulnerable, can then also lead to diagnosable anxiety and depression.”

Cashen says parents need to be engaged in the lives of their teens, including how much time their kids spend scrolling. He suggests an open-door policy with technology.

“I do like privacy and confidentiality, but I suggest to parents to tell kids they should have no 100 percent expectation of privacy. Parents should go through their phones, perhaps not all the time, but a spot check here and there. If things seem ok, they can check less. If things are not ok, check more.”

Symptoms of depression parents can watch for include (but are not limited to) a change in mood, drop in grades, drastic changes in eating habits, declining interest in hobbies or activities, withdrawing from friends and family.

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, the best thing to do is talk to your kid about your worries. If you believe your child is struggling with depression or other mental health issues, talk to your doctor.

Source: OSF HealthCare