Social media, smartphone use affects teens’ mental health

Researchers in Canada said social media and smartphone use significantly affect the mental health of teenagers.

According to the findings of a study published in the ‘Canadian Medical Association Journal,’ smartphone and social media use have been implicated in the increase of “mental distress, self-injurious behaviour and suicidality among youths.”

Mental distress (or psychological distress) is a term used, both by some mental health practitioners and users of mental health services, to describe a range of symptoms and experiences of a person’s internal life that are commonly held to be troubling, confusing or out of the ordinary. On its part, the term suicidality covers suicidal ideation, meaning serious thoughts about taking one’s own life, suicide plans and suicide attempts.

However, the lead author of the study Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude said: “Physicians, teachers and families need to work together with youths to decrease possible harmful effects of smartphones and social media on their relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being.”

Abi-Jaoude is a staff psychiatrist at The Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

In one previous United States (US) study, the rate of kids and teens arriving in hospitals due to suicidal thoughts or attempts “almost doubled between 2008 and 2015, with the highest increase among adolescent girls,” the ‘NewsmaxHealth’ reported.

Similarly, in Ontario, the number of teenagers reporting “moderate to severe mental distress” went from 24 per cent in 2013 to 39 per cent just four years later.

Another study conducted in Germany found that kids who spent more time on Facebook were more prone to negative emotions such as envy and insecurity about their status.

Furthermore, another review of 20 studies found that the use of social media was associated with “body image concerns and disordered eating,” the research team reported.

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