Research from the University of Glasgow has found a strong link between teenage social media use and increased anxiety and depression.
Lead researcher Dr Heather Cleland Woods carried out the study on 467 teenagers, looking at their overall and night-time specific social media use. Further tests measured sleep quality, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and the subjects’ emotional investment in social media, which relates to the pressure to be available 24/7 and any anxiety around not responding immediately to texts or posts.
Results showed that overall and night-time specific social media use along with a higher emotional investment in social media, were related to poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem and higher anxiety and depression levels.
Dr Cleland Woods explained: “Adolescence can be a period of increased vulnerability for the onset of depression and anxiety, and poor sleep quality may contribute to this. It is important that we understand how social media use relates to these.”
She went on to say “While overall social media use impacts on sleep quality, those who log on at night appear to be particularly affected. This may be mostly true of individuals who are highly emotionally invested. This means we have to think about how our kids use social media, in relation to time for switching off.”
Isn’t it time we intervened and created some sensible guidelines and tools for parents?
School and governments need to help parents educate their teenagers on the benefits of switching off and unwinding for their mental health and wellness. We need to show our future leaders, innovators and carers, the power and value in emotionally investing in their own personal growth and human relationships. Not social media.
This is a preventable problem and action must be taken.