Data shows potential effects of social media on teens' mental health

Research comparing depressive symptoms with the use of devices by 133,000 teenagers found a greater effect on girls than boys

Research comparing depressive symptoms with the use of devices by 133,000 teenagers found a greater effect on girls than boys

Suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015 after they had declined for almost two decades, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the study provides weak evidence for a popular theory and that many factors influence teen suicide.

At first, researchers didn't know what was causing teens to feel depressed or have suicide-related outcomes.

-Teens' use of electronic devices including smartphones for at least five hours daily more than doubled, from 8 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2015. For girls, the rates were higher - 45 percent in 2015 versus 40 percent in 2009.

The number of teen girls reporting symptoms of severe depression increased by 58 percent. However, they noticed that teens had reported in the surveys a change in how they spent their free time. They were asked about use of electronic devices, social media, print media, television and time spent with friends.

Are you in the habit of spending more time on cellphones, tablets or playing computer games?

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The recent findings suggest parents should look into the amount of time their kids spend in front of screens.

Twenge concluded that limiting screen-time to one or two hours per day would statistically fall into the safe zone for device usage.

"Teens are telling us they are struggling, and we need to take that very seriously", Twenge added.

More than 44,000 Americans take their lives each year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the USA, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

It was also suggested that engaging in social interaction, sports and exercise, doing homework, attending religious services, and others, was linked to having fewer depressive symptoms and suicide-related outcomes. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 15-34 and the third leading cause among those ages 10-14.

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