Social Media May be Worse for Girls than Boys
Node Smith, ND
Another study suggests that screen time and time spent on social media may contribute to higher rates of depression. This time the study specifies young girls using social media. The study found that girls are affected more significantly by depression due to poor sleep and online bullying than boys.1
Study looked at 11,000 14-year olds, finding a correlation between social media use, poor sleep, and diagnosable depression
The study looked at 11,000 14-year olds, finding a significant correlation between social media use, poor sleep and unhappiness diagnosable as depression, especially among girls.
Professor Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, and leader of this study said, “it seems girls are struggling with these aspects of their lives more than boys, in some cases considerably so.”
Differences seen in the range of mental ailments among younger women vs. younger men
These findings may help illuminate some of the differences seen in the range of mental ailments noticed in younger women compared to young men. It may also serve as a warning about self-harm or suicidal intentions in this population.
Moods and Feelings Questionnaire
The participants of the study were provided with questionnaires to fill out. These asked about their social media use and assessed their mental health. Symptoms of depression were measured using the Moods and Feelings Questionnaire. The participants had to agree or disagree to statements such as, “I felt miserable or unhappy”, “I felt so tired I just sat around and did nothing” and “I didn’t enjoy anything at all”. Their perception over the last two weeks was assessed using the questionnaire. Results showed that girls used social media more than boys and around 40 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys were using it for more than three hours per day. Total abstinence from social media was seen in only 4 percent of girls and 10 percent of boys.
Fair amount of sleep deprivation found among participants
There was a fair amount of sleep deprivation found among the participants. Among those with depression and low mood, 48.4 percent of girls were getting less than seven hours, compared to 19.8 of boys. One in two girls defined their sleep as disrupted “most of the time.” Social media may be to blame for this sleep disruption as many adolescents sleep with their phones on to wake in the night for social media alerts.
Results revealed the following
They found on analysis that 12 percent of the light social media users and 38 percent of the heavy social media users were suffering from symptoms of depression. Results revealed that adolescents spending three to five hours of social media per day had a 26 percent increase in depression scores in girls and a 21 percent rise in depression scores in boys. This was in comparison with teenagers who used it for one to three hours/day. Among kids who used social media for over five hours per day, the depression scores rose by 50 percent in girls and 35 percent in boys compared to the light users.
Online bullying another underlying cause for depression
They noted that apart from sleep deprivation, online bullying was another underlying cause for depression. The researchers write, “The most important pathways were via poor sleep and online harassment. For example: more social media use linked to poor sleep which in turn was related to depressive symptoms; experiencing online harassment was linked to poor sleep, poor body image and low self-esteem; and that girls and boys with poor body image were more likely to have low self-esteem.”
The authors’ conclusion, ‘strong evidence for association between screen time and depressive symptoms’
The authors of the study write as a conclusion of their study, “There is moderately strong evidence for an association between screen time and depressive symptoms. This association is for overall screen time but there is very limited evidence from only one review for an association with social media screen time. There is moderate evidence for a dose-response effect, with weak evidence for a threshold of ≥2 hours daily screen time for the association with depressive symptoms.”
Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.