Depressed teens more likely to misuse social media


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – U.S. teens spend seven hours a day connected to electronic media. About 89 percent of them belong to at least one social networking site. But how is all this exposure affecting them?

In a new study, scientists looked at 816 teens over three years. They found that teens, especially boys, who are already depressed were more likely to use social media to try to fit in — comparing themselves to others — and seeking feedback from their peers online. Scientists say the findings suggest that social media offers an opportunity for depressed teens to engage in harmful behavior.

You can help your teen by waiting until they’re mature enough to join a social media site. Facebook doesn’t permit anyone under age 13, but you can delay that if you don’t think your teen is ready. Some parents also choose to monitor a child’s social media activity with different programs or by keeping the computer in a central location. Also educate your teen about what’s appropriate to post and the dangers of comparing themselves to others on social media. A little explaining could go a long way.

Today more than 95 percent of teens have access to the internet and 78 percent own a smart phone.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.