Frequent social media use can damage children’s mental health, study warns

Using social media isn’t directly harming teenagers – but it can reduce the time they spend on healthy activities, such as sleeping and exercising, a study suggests.

Social media use raises children’s risk of mental health problems by up to half, a major study has found.

The study suggested efforts should be made to reduce young people’s exposure to harmful content online.

Checking Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat weekly means the risk of suffering “psychological distress” is up to 20 per cent.

Logging in as little as four times a day can raise the danger by half again, the study of more than 10,000 children shows.

Teenage girls who check Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat weekly have a 20 per cent risk of psychological distress, it shows.

But for those logging on frequently — four times a day or more — the risk increases to 28 per cent, a rise of 40 per cent.

Boys on social media irregularly have a ten per cent risk of suffering mental health issues.

But it rose to 15 per cent in those who logged on several times a day — a jump of a half.

With half of all mental illness starting before the age of 14, Dr Louise Theodosiou, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said social media giants must do more to protect kids.

According to The Sun UK, she said: “We’ve seen a worrying rise in low mood and depression among girls and young women in recent years. This paper helps our understanding of the link between social media use and mental health problems.”

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