The link between social media and depression may be stronger in girls than it is in boys.
Researchers in Britain analyzed data on more than ten-thousand 14-year-olds and found teens who use social media the most — more than five hours a day — showed a 50% increase in depressive symptoms among girls versus 35% among boys, when their symptoms were compared with those who use social media for only one to three hours daily.
For both groups, the more social media they used the more likely they were to have mental health problems, but few studies until now looked for explanations why.
This study also looked at sleeping habits, cyberbullying, body image and self-esteem – all of which are linked to the frequent use of social media and the risk of depression.
The researchers did not study the gender differences in the data but suspect the answer may lie in the types of things boys and girls do online.
For instance, in Britain, girls tend to use Snapchat and Instagram more, both of which are based on physical appearance, taking photographs and commenting on those photographs.
More study is needed to determine whether teens with depressive symptoms are more likely to use social media, as opposed to frequent social media use leading to depressive symptoms.