For years, parents, teachers and doctors have stated that the frequent or daily use of social media networks predisposes teenagers to depressive thoughts, feelings and episodes. Now, an amazing new research from Columbia University brings a surprising relief for parents.
The study authors believe that their findings will be a relief to countless parents who, in a pandemic context, see their teenagers spending more time online.
“While some adults have voiced concerns over the potential mental health risks of this behavior, our research finds no compelling evidence to suggest that social media use meaningfully increases adolescents’ risk of depressive symptoms,” says author Noah Kreski.
To reach this conclusion, the research team analyzed a large data set, originally collected by Monitoring the Future, a comprehensive long-term study of Americans’ behaviours and attitudes from childhood to adulthood. In all, information from 74,472 students from 8th to 10th grade, obtained between 2009 and 2017, was used.
The results show a “weak” connection to depression
The authors say that there is no connection between daily use of social networks and the increased risk of depression. The only finding that suggests, even slightly, such a relationship belongs to women who have a lower risk of depression. Among this group, the use of social networks was “weakly” associated with depressive symptoms.
“Daily social media use does not capture the diverse ways in which adolescents use social media, which may be both positive and negative depending on the social context,” concludes Katherine Keyes, senior author of the study and PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School. “Future research could explore the specific behaviors and experiences of young people using social media, as well as more frequent engagement with the various platforms.”
The study is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.