Perhaps nothing in society reflects the wisdom behind the age-old metaphor of a double-edged sword better than social media. The analogy implies that both positive and negative consequences can follow many things in life, either at the same time or dependent on the measure and manner with which something is used.
While it is easy to marvel at the benefits of sharing information and images instantly from anywhere on the planet and the overall global connectivity available through smartphones, the results of this access are a mixed bag, to say the least. Studies showing the potential pernicious influence of social media sites abound and the habits formed by using the apps are not easy to break, particularly for youths.
In addition to the psychological impact that follows overuse of social media, teenagers may encounter other physiological problems, according to a report this week from CNN that referenced a study published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. Story author Leah Asmelash explained the study’s findings, writing:
Social media use has been linked to depression, especially in teenage girls. But a new study argues that the issue may be more complex than experts think.
The research, published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, involved interviews with almost 10,000 children between the ages of 13 and 16 in England. The researchers found that social media may harm girls’ mental health by increasing their exposure to bullying and reducing their sleep and physical exercise.
“Our results suggest that social media itself doesn’t cause harm, but that frequent use may disrupt activities that have a positive impact on mental health such as sleeping and exercising, while increasing exposure of young people to harmful content, particularly the negative experience of cyber-bullying,” study co-author Russell Viner of the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said in a statement.
In other words: Social media itself might not be to blame for mental health issues; rather, it takes away from girls’ sleep quality and exercise while exposing users to cyberbullying, and that’s what leads to lower well-being and problems with mental health.
Reducing screen time may be a good long-term goal for teens, while redirecting more of that time to consuming the advice and practice of legitimate fitness, nutrition and wellness experts could prove to be a beneficial compromise.
To read Asmelash’s full writeup, click here.