Social Media, Not Video Games, Linked To Teen Depression

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
social media
Social media use has been linked to teen depression. Photo by Kalu Johnson from Pexels

Screen time on social media is more harmful to teens than playing video games as it increases depression symptoms, according to a new study by researchers at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital.

Researchers carried out the study to find the relationship between depression and exposure to different forms of screen time in adolescents over four years beginning in 2012.

They described their work as the first study of its kind that presents a “developmental analysis of variations in depression and various types of screen time”, Aljazeera reported.

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The study built on research from previous studies that showed kids who spent more than seven hours in front of screens were more than twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than those who spent a single hour per day on screen.

“What we found over and over was that the effects of social media were much larger than any of the other effects for the other types of digital screen time,” said Patricia Conrod, the study’s team leader and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal.

Video games neutral compared to social media

The study, carried out among 3,826 adolescents, also showed that TV, computer and video-game use have more nuanced links to teenage mood.

A young woman who took a two-year hiatus from social media says she isn’t surprised by a study that links such screen time to depression in youth, CBC reported.

“It can be fairly easy for social media to become a toxic space, just because we’re constantly inundated with so much content that it becomes overwhelming,” said Asiya Barakzai, a 22-year-old studying political science at Western University.

Popular congresswoman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, said in April she was cutting back her screen time because she says it’s a public health risk. She is known for her social-media savvy which helped her rise to prominence.