In a new paper, researchers analyzed the data of about 1,000 young people from the Millennium Cohort Study to see how social media use affects teenage boys and girls. Symptoms of depression were measured using the Moods and Feelings Questionnaire. The findings were published in the journal EClinicalMedicine.
Teen girls are twice as likely as boys to show depressive symptoms linked to social media use - mainly due to online harassment and disturbed sleep, as well as poor body image and lower self-esteem, British researchers say.
"The link between social media use and depressive symptoms was stronger for girls compared with boys".
Yet another study has revealed that more time spent on social media translates into higher rates of depression especially among young girls. Kelly and her colleagues found that 14-year-old girls are heavier social media users than 14-year-old boys.
"In the United Kingdom, girls tend to more likely use things like Snapchat or Instagram, which is more based around physical appearance, taking photographs and commenting on those photographs", she said.
Depression linked to social media is nearly twice as high among teenage girls compared to boys, according to research by University College London (UCL).
For example, 60 percent of girls who are depressed are unhappy with their appearance and 2¹/₂ times more likely than boys to be dissatisfied with their weight. About 40 percent of the girls surveyed experienced online harassment compared to only 25 percent of boys. The researchers write, "The most important pathways were via poor sleep and online harassment". Among teenagers who had perpetrated online bullying, 32.8 per cent of girls and 7.9 per cent of boys were depressed.
Percentage of girls in a study who reported experiencing disrupted sleep, compared with 28 per cent of boys. These asked about their social media use and assessed their mental health.
Dr. Gary Maslow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Duke Health and assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said the study finding of four factors related to social media use and depressive symptoms was interesting.
He added that he often points his patients' families to the American Academy of Pediatrics for tips on how to establish healthy social media habits in the home.
"For me, the sleep one is probably the most actionable in some ways", said Maslow, who was not involved in the research.
Social media is a fact of life for today's teenagers, though little is known about the impact of long-term exposure to its less than desirable aspects: cyberbullying, impossible beauty standards and violent content.