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More Time Spent on Social Media May Harm Teen Mental Health

THURSDAY, Sept. 12, 2019 -- Increased time spent on social media is associated with an increased risk for internalizing problems among adolescents, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Kira E. Riehm, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues examined whether time spent using social media per day is associated with internalizing and externalizing problems among adolescents. Data were included from 6,595 participants from waves 1, 2, and 3 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study; participants were aged 12 to 15 years in wave 1.

The researchers found that compared with no use, spending more than 30 minutes of time on social media correlated with an increased risk for internalizing problems alone and with an increased risk for comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems; inconsistent correlations were seen with externalizing problems. After adjustment, compared with no use, use of social media for more than three hours per day correlated significantly with internalizing problems alone (more than three to no more than six hours: relative risk ratio [RRR], 1.60; more than six hours: RRR, 1.78) and with comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (more than three to no more than six hours: RRR, 2.01; more than six hours: RRR, 2.44), but not with externalizing problems alone.

"Future research should determine whether setting limits on daily social media use, increasing media literacy, and redesigning social media platforms are effective means of reducing the burden of mental health problems in this population," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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Posted: September 2019

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