Teenagers who spend more than two hours a day on social networks including Facebok, Twitter and Instagram are more likely to suffer from mental health problems, a Canadian study found.
Researchers from Ottawa Public Health analysed data on students in grades seven to twelve from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey and found that the 25 per cent of those who reported spending more than two hours on social media a day were more likely to also report suicidal thoughts and high levels of psychological stress.
The study, led by Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga and Rosamund Lewis, couldn’t determine whether the use of social networks was the cause of the health problems or an indication.
The study included data on 753 students of whom 55 per cent were girls. The average age of the respondents was 14.1 years.
The researchers believe the results send an important message to parents but also suggest social media, due to their important role in the lives of the young, could be used to offer mental health support service.
The study was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.
"This is where we see social networking sites, which may be a problem for some, also being a solution," said the journal’s editor-in-chief Brenda K Wiederhold. "Since teens are on the sites, it is the perfect place for public health and service providers to reach out and connect with this vulnerable population and provide health promotion systems and supports."