Researchers from University College London suggest that content posted and viewed on social media could play a more important role than platforms themselves in the impact of depression among adolescents.
For several years social networking has been associated with mental health hazards. An Australian study published in late 2018 in The Australian Journal of Psychology, for example, compared the abuse of these platforms to addictions similar to those observed with alcohol.
In January 2019, another study published in The Lancet published a link between excessive consumption of social networks and depression among adolescents.
But the problem lies not so much in social networks as in usage, says a new study published on Tuesday in The Lancet Health & Adolescent Health and conducted on 12,886 adolescents aged 13 to 16 years. .
Participants were asked about their frequency of use of social networks. Check that his phone more than three times a day is described as "very common" by the researchers who led the work. These indications, however, did not take into account the number of connections made by a computer.
Adolescents were also asked to provide information about their mental health status, including their feelings of well-being and level of anxiety.
Risks of exposure to bullying
The researchers found that the widespread use of social media was associated with increased psychological distress. The effect was particularly pronounced in girls, the study authors note.
"Our findings suggest that social networks are not dangerous, but that their frequent use can cost activities with positive health effects, such as sleeping or playing sports," says Russell Viner, co-founder of the study's author and researcher at the Institute for Child Health , University College London.
This theory, however, is not new: a Canadian study published last July in Jama Pediatrics suggests that time spent on social media is replacing time that could be spent on activities that boost morale, such as sports. or take a walk in nature.
The other big risk is exposure to cyberbullying, especially for young women, warns Rusell Vinner's team: "Interventions to promote mental health must include efforts to prevent bullying."