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Social Media Use More Likely to Make Girls Depressed

The silhouette of a head pointing left is made up of black and blue hands. Above the head reads "spotlight on," and in the head reads "teen mental health."

Though social media can be a helpful tool for teenagers to learn and connect with friends, experts have long warned that too much social media can come with downsides.

There appears to be a connection between social media use and depressive symptoms in 14-year-olds, and that connection may be much stronger for girls than boys, according to a study published in the journal EClinicalMedicine .

“There’s an alarming difference,” said Yvonne Kelly, first author of the study and a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London in the United Kingdom.

Among teens who use social media more than five hours a day, the study showed a 50 percent increase in depressive symptoms among girls versus 35 percent among boys, when their symptoms were compared with those who use social media for only one to three hours daily.

“We looked at four potential explanations simultaneously, and this is the first paper to do that. We looked at sleeping habits; experiences online, so cyber-bullying; how they thought about their bodies, or their body image, and whether they were happy with how they looked; and their self-esteem,” she said. “All of those four things — the sleep, the cyber-harassment, the body image or happiness with appearance, and the self-esteem — they are all linked with the risk of having depression.”

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