Social Media (Again) Shown to be worse for Girls’ Mental Health Than Boys’

Posted on January 7, 2019

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Social media serves as a useful platform to re-connect with old friends or stay in contact with friends and family abroad, but this tool though beneficial, appears psychologically detrimental especially for youths. This leads to the increasing trend of individuals breaking away from social media and reporting better emotional wellbeing. A new study from the University of Essex and University College London found that the more teenagers spend their time on social media, the greater the risk of developing depression, and this relationship appears more pronounced for girls than boys.

According to their study, it was found that generally, girls used social media more than boys with a smaller percentage of girls reporting complete abstinence from it. With increased usage, the likelihood of experiencing depression symptoms increases as well and this increase is greater for girls than boys. Three to five hours of social media per day was correlated with a 26% increase in depression scores for girls compared to a 21% increase in boys, with more than five hours of usage, this increase goes up to 50% and 35% for girls and boys respectively.

The team further investigated for the possible explanations for this relationship and found that cyberbullying and sleep deprivation both had an effect. Specifically, as increase social media usage was linked to poor sleep, and cyberbullying was linked to poor body image and self-esteem, all of which was related to depressive symptoms. However, when these factors were considered, the relationship between social media and depression was reduced suggesting that these factors could be significant moderators. In terms of age, there were differences as well further suggesting this relationship to be more nuanced as the disparity in the strength of the relationship in girls and boys grew between the ages of 10 to 15.

Despite there being other studies conducted that found mixed evidence of this relationship, the studies that prove the relationship to be strong should not be taken lightly as some studies found that it could potentially lead to suicidality as well. It is no surprise that social media would affect the genders differently as the way each gender engages with social media are fundamentally different, such as how experts suggest that girls compare themselves to others more often, where this comparison is often detrimental to mental health. Ultimately, social media does have its benefits, and it is indeed hard to pull away from especially for youths. The take home advice here then would be if you are not able to cut out social media, then you should at the very least, cut down.

Category(s):Depression, Self-Esteem

Source material from Forbes