Heavy social media use may hurt teens’ mental health, study says

It leaves less time for more positive things

(CNN/Gray News) – Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

A new study suggests social media use may harm the mental health of teenagers by increasing their exposure to bullying.

It can also reduce their sleep and exercise time.

The research was published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Scientists conducted multiple interviews with almost 10,000 teenagers in England between the ages of 13 and 16.

The teens reported the frequency they used social media – sites like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and Snapchat. More than three times daily was considered very frequent.

The researchers found that with both boys and girls very frequent social media use was associated with greater psychological distress, but the stress impacted girls more.

"Our results suggest that social media itself doesn't cause harm, but that frequent use may disrupt activities that have a positive impact on mental health such as sleeping and exercising, while increasing exposure of young people to harmful content, particularly the negative experience of cyber-bullying," study co-author Russell Viner of the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said.

The bottom line is too much social media can not only add to a teen’s stress, but also get in the way of other activities that have a positive impact on mental health, including sleep and exercise.

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