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Excessive Use Of Social Media Puts Adolescents At Risk Of Depression, Low Self-Esteem

Update Date: Jan 23, 2017 08:00 AM EST

A recent study revealed that excessive and problematic use of social media can put adolescents at risk of developing depression and low self-esteem. Researchers are looking at how school-based programs can intervene and prevent such problems.

The research titled "Problematic Social Media Use: Results from a Large-Scale Nationally Representative Adolescent Sample" looked into 5,961 adolescents. The study is part of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). The report suggests that 71 percent of adolescents access more than one social media, while 24 percent are almost always plugged online due to accessibility of smartphones.

Among the adolescent subjects, researchers found that an average of 23.16 hours was spent a week on social media. Females spend more time with 25.71 hours per week than men with 20.53 hours.

Participants were asked questions based on socio-demographics and weekly use of social media. Responses were weighed using the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale. Basing on their score, they were categorized into no risk, low risk and at risk.

Researchers observed that those who belonged to the at risk group were mostly female and have elevated levels of withdrawal and tolerance. They also spend more than 30 hours a week on social media.

Addiction to social media or internet is not recognized by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a tool which American Psychology Association uses to diagnose mental disorders. However, there have been reports that there are already talks about its inclusion in the mental health field.

Excessive use of social media may also lead to sexual exposure at an early age. A survey conducted by La Trobe University revealed the sexual behaviour of more than 2000 adolescents. More than half of the population admitted to receiving sexually explicit messages, while 26 percent has reported to have sent a compromising photo.

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