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Social media may play role in youth mental health woes, especially for girls

Social media may play role in youth mental health woes, especially for girls
Health
Researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children say smartphone and social media use may be a contributing factor in the increase in mental health issues reported by youth. (Pixabay / Pexels)

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TORONTO -- As more children report and seek help for mental health issues, Canadian researchers have found that social media use could be an ignored contributing factor.

"Findings from a few longitudinal, randomized and controlled studies suggest that social media and smartphone use may be contributing to the rising burden of mental distress among youth," researchers from the Toronto-based Hospital for Sick Children wrote Monday in .

By reviewing dozens of published reports, studies and surveys, the researchers laid out a clear case for a growing epidemic of mental health concerns among youth.

"In the last decade, increasing mental distress and treatment for mental health conditions among youth in North America has paralleled a steep rise in the use of smartphones and social media by children and adolescents," they wrote.

During the same 2013-2017 time period, the percentage of teenagers reporting spending five or more hours a day on social media nearly doubled, rising from 11 per cent to 20 per cent.

The SickKids team noted that researchers have found it difficult to prove that a connection exists between the increases in youth social media use and youth mental health issues, but say they believe their work points to a link.
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