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Too Much Social Media: Bad for Teens?

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Parents have long suspected that too much time on social media is bad for kids. New research now confirms a link—although not a causative one—between social media use and poor mental health.

Canadian researchers studied more than 750 students in grades 7-12. They found that teens who use social media sites for more than 2 hours a day are more likely to struggle with mental health issues. These teens were more likely to describe their own mental health as poor, and to also to say that they had mental health support needs that were not met.

However, the study did not show that social media use actually causes psychological problems. Rather, students with poor mental health may be more frequent users of social networks.

Why is this important? Teens may hide depression or other mental health issues. But their social media use is more evident. This makes it easier for family, caregivers, teachers, and health care professionals to become aware of teens’ psychological issues and provide support.

Given the linkage between mental health issues and social media use, researchers suggest that it might be a good idea to for health service providers to maintain a presence on social media sites, as a way of providing support to teens in need.

Bottom line: pay attention to how your teen spends his/her time. Too many hours on Facebook or other sites can be a clue that something is amiss—and will give you a chance to take action.
Read the study at: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2015.0055
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