Adolescents are likely to have their “mental health compromised” by frequent use of social media, reveals a study published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health (August). The study, which surveyed 10,000-plus 13-16-year-olds in England over three years, found that frequent use of social media increases a teenager’s exposure to bullying, and reduces time available for sleeping and exercise. The study defined “frequent use” as using social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Whatsapp three or more times a day.
For girl children, the more often they checked social media, the greater their psychological distress. For example, 28 percent of the girls who frequently used social media reported psychological distress compared to 20 percent of girls who used social media weekly or less. Similarly, girls who reported using social media very frequently in the first two years of the study reported lower life satisfaction, lower levels of happiness and greater anxiety in the final year. The researchers attribute almost all of this to cyber-bullying, reduced sleep and physical exercise.