A new study linking teen’s use of social media to their incidence of depression and suicidal thoughts may have parents ready to toss out their teens’ smartphones and computers. Conducted by the city of Ottawa’s public health division, the study found teen’s who use social media sites in excess of two hours per day are at increased risk of depression. The results of the study should serve as an indicator of potential depression, however, because the social media behaviors could only be demonstrated to have a correlation with illness, rather than being the cause of it. The study’s outcome may provide parents who may otherwise have looked past their child’s depression with much needed knowledge.
Co-author Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga illustrated the importance of the recent findings, “Parents need to be more aware of the pitfalls of social networking sites (SNS) and actively engage with young people in making it a safer and more enjoyable experience for them. Parents should consider frequent use of SNS as a possible indicator of, or risk for, mental health problems among children.”
Many experts recommend adolescents limit screen time to two hours a day. Faced with a sufficient amount of selfies and humblebragging, anyone is likely to lose their mind.
Those who want to take the route of trashing their teen’s devices would be misguided, though.
President of Planned Parenthood Ottawa, Lauren Dobson-Hughes, runs a high school course on navigating social media and recommends a different strategy, “We take the approach that it is better to help youth navigate what is going on in their lives rather than banning it. As a parent, the tendency might be to take the phone away. But we know that social media is not a separate thing to them, it is part of their lives.”