There is a Link Between Smartphone and Social Media Use and Mental Health

​New research unveils the connection between the use of mobile phones and social media and mental distress and suicide tendencies among youths.

The paper, titled ‘Smartphones, Social Media and Youth Mental Health,’ was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal​ and showcased evidence of a link between the heavy use of social media and the negative effects it has on mental health. The study authors noted that this factor should be one of the most important elements to consider by clinicians and researchers who work in the field of mental health.

Creating Stability

The study was conducted by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)​, and focuses on mobile phone use, without considering online gaming. The research includes guidance for physicians, parents, and teachers on proper methods through with to help adolescents manage mobile devices and social media use for a healthier balance between sleep, academic results, social activities, interpersonal relationships, and online behavior.

Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude, the lead author of the paper and staff psychiatrist at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto Western Hospital, ​as well as the University Health Network in Toronto, Ontario, recommended: “Physicians, teachers, and families need to work together with youth to decrease possible harmful effects of smartphones and social media on their relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being.”​

Some of the topics included in the research include, as pointed on the official website of the Canadian Medical Association Journal :

• What are the effects of social media on adolescents’ sense of self?
• Can social media encourage self-harm?
• Does excessive smartphone use affect mental health?
• How do social media and smartphone use affect sleep require for mental health?
• Are some teens more vulnerable to mental health effects than others?
• How can physicians use this information in clinical practice?

The analysts noted: “Given the importance of engaging youth in mitigating potential harms from social media, a prohibitionist approach would be counterproductive. For adolescents today, who have not known a world without social media, digital interactions are the norm.”

“The potential benefits of online access to productive mental health information include media literacy, creativity, self-expression, sense of belonging and civic engagement, as well as low barriers to resources such as crisis lines and Internet-based talking therapies, cannot be discounted.”

Recommendations That Help Youths Manage Smartphone and Social Media Use

The study authors have, therefore, suggested physicians recommend adolescents reduce social media use instead of completely eradicate it. Parents are encouraged to discuss proper mobile phone use with their children in order to determine a way to decrease risks and place boundaries. A piece of advice for schools says that they should negotiate smartphone use considering the proper way of development needed for the kids in the context of a relationship created on mutual trust and respect.

A relatively new poll in the U.S. suggests that 54 percent of teens believe they spend too much time on their mobile devices, and approximately of them said they were reducing the usage.

The authors of the research explain: “Encouragingly, youth are increasingly recognizing the negative impact of social media on their lives and starting to take steps to mitigate it.”

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