*The following is excerpted from an online article from the Huffington Post.
Most members of Generation Z can't imagine life without Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Nearly one in four teens reports being online "almost constantly," with much of that online time dominated by social media.
But the effect of social networking on teens' mental health has been largely unclear, since so little research has been conducted on the matter. A new study warns, however, that frequent social media use may indeed take a toll on a young person's psychological well-being.
The research comes from Ottawa Public Health, the city of Ottawa's agency for health information, programs and services. The study finds that teens who use social media sites for two hours or more per day are significantly more likely to suffer from poor mental health, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts.
To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed data from 750 students in grades seven through 12, collected for the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. The students were asked to answer questions about their social media habits, mental health and psychological well-being, and mental health support. Of those students, 25 percent said that they spent at least two hours a day on social networking sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
The researchers found that these heavy social media users were more likely to report having poor mental health, psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression), suicidal thoughts and unmet mental health needs.
While the study doesn't prove causality, it's likely that the direction of influence runs both ways. Teens who are struggling with their mental health may be more likely to use social media frequently, while excessive use of social media use may over time contribute to poor mental health.
"The relationship between the use of social networking sites and mental health problems is complex," said Dr. Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, the study's lead author. "Simple use of social networking sites cannot fully explain by itself the occurrence of mental health problems."
The findings were published online on July 13 in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
Source: Huffington Post