Overall time on social media is not related to teen anxiety and depression

The amount of time teenagers spend on social networking sites has risen 62.5 percent since 2012 and continues to grow. Just last year, the average time teenagers spent on social media was estimated as 2.6 hours per day. Critics have claimed that more screen time is increasing depression and anxiety in teenagers.

However, new research led by Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, found that the amount of time spent on social media is not directly increasing anxiety or depression in teenagers.

“We spent eight years trying to really understand the relationship between time spent on social media and depression for developing teenagers,” Coyne said about her study published in Computers in Human Behavior. “If they increased their social media time, would it make them more depressed? Also, if they decreased their social media time, were they less depressed? The answer is no. We found that time spent on social media was not what was impacting anxiety or depression.”

Full story at Science Daily

Facebook may actually benefit adult mental health

It is a common belief that using social media platforms can adversely affect people’s mental health, but new research has shown that using these networking sites can reduce an adult’s risk of experiencing depression or anxiety.

Facebook’s reputation has sunk in recent years for a variety of reasons, including its role in the 2016 elections and the recent data breach.

In addition, studies have suggested that social media can cause psychological distress, loneliness, and depression. For example, research from 2019 suggested that quitting Facebook may improve overall well-being.

Full story at Medical News Today

Using Instagram can increase adolescents’ closeness to friends

Your food, your vacation, your carefully curated life — all posted for your friends in a filtered image. Some may scoff at adolescents’ use of social media networks as they pine for likes. Is this just frivolous behavior? Or are they really just solidifying their social connections to friends? A recent study by a researcher at the University of Leuven found that adolescents’ use of Instagram actually strengthened the closeness of their friendships.

Eline Frison (University of Leuven) will present her findings at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in San Diego, CA. From 2013-2014, Frison set up a large-scale longitudinal panel study to investigate the relationships between Flemish adolescents’ social networking site use and their well-being. Students filled out paper-and-pencil surveys between 6 month periods. The surveys asked students about their use of social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, and their well-being (depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, loneliness).

Full story of Instagram and adolescent friendships at Science Daily

Liking on Facebook good for teens’ stress, but being liked…not so much

Facebook can have positive and negative effects on teens levels of a stress hormone, say researchers at the University of Montreal and the Institut universitaire de santé mentale de Montréal. Led by Professor Sonia Lupien, the team found that having more than 300 Facebook friends increased teens’ levels of cortisol. On the other hand, teens who act in ways that support their Facebook friends — for example, by liking what they posted or sending them words of encouragement — decreased their levels of cortisol. Their findings were published inPsychoneuroendocrinology.

Lupien and her colleagues recruited 88 participants aged 12-17 years who were asked about their frequency of use of Facebook, their number of friends on the social media site, their self-promoting behaviour, and finally, the supporting behaviour they displayed toward their friends. Along with these four measures, the team collected cortisol samples of the participating adolescents. The samples were taken four times a day for three days.

Stress levels measured in adolescents from cortisol samples are obviously not entirely due to the popular social media site. “While other important external factors are also responsible, we estimated that the isolated effect of Facebook on cortisol was around eight percent,” Lupien said. “We were able to show that beyond 300 Facebook friends, adolescents showed higher cortisol levels; we can therefore imagine that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on Facebook may be subjected to even greater stress.”

Full story of liking on Facebook and impact on teens mental health at Science Daily

Social media can influence teens with pro-drug messages

A new NIDA-funded study analyzed the content and demographic reach of a popular pro-marijuana Twitter handle in 2013 and found that only ten percent of the messages mentioned any risky behaviors associated with marijuana use.

Given that over 70 percent of followers were 19 years of age or younger – an age group that is using social media at increased rates – these findings underscore the importance of monitoring social media sites that focus on drug use and to use this information to develop strategic prevention efforts. Messages could include the risks that increase when marijuana use begins as a teen, including addiction, cognitive impairments, and the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

Full story of social media’s influence on teens at NIDA