How responsible are social media for depression in adolescents and children?

How responsible are social media for depression in adolescents and children?

The mental health of adolescents and children (even under the age of 5), due to the abuse of smartphones and social media, is in danger. In the first year of the pandemic, access to emergency rooms for minors for pathologies of neuropsychiatric interest increased by 83.1%. All the details

As Start wrote about a month ago, the life of adolescents is increasingly online, but two other studies, one published by the Pew Research Center and the other by the Italian Journal of Pediatrics, sound the alarm as regards the most little ones.

In fact, due to the pandemic , the use of social media and digital devices has also grown exponentially among children, causing a worrying increase in pathologies of neuropsychiatric interest, such as suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

“The pandemic has produced an extraordinary acceleration of digitization, with a real boom in the use of the internet, smartphones and social media”, says Elena Bozzola , director of the Italian Society of Pediatrics (Sip).

THE USE OF SOCIAL AMONG TEENAGERS

In Italy, the 17th Censis Report found that among young people aged 14 to 29, 92.3% use WhatsApp, 82.7% YouTube, 76.5% Instagram, 65.7% Facebook, 53 , 5% Amazon, 41.8% video conferencing platforms, 36.8% Spotify, 34.5% TikTok, 32.9% Telegram, 24.2% Twitter.

THE DIGITIZATION OF CHILDREN DURING THE PANDEMIC

In the United States, on the other hand, the smallest ones ended up under the magnifying glass. The Pew Research Center compared the habits of children under 11 over the period from March 2020 to April 2021.

In particular, children under 5 who used a tablet went from 51% in 2020 to 69% in 2021 and those who played with a console or video game device from 16% to 29%.

ON WHICH SOCIALS CHILDREN SPEND THE MOST TIME

Social media were also considered for the survey: TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

According to reports from parents, the most used social network by children under the age of 11 was TikTok: in April 2021 it was used by 21% of children, against 13% in 2020. However, the use of other social networks has also almost doubled. between 2020 and 2021, going from 8% to 17%.

But one of the most alarming data concerns in particular children under the age of 5, a group in which the use of TikTok has increased fivefold, from 1% to 5%.

DATA ON ADOLESCENTS IN ITALY

In Italy, the Censis report of 2021 observed a progressive increase in the use of smartphones by adolescents, which reached 95%. Most of them said they use it more than before the pandemic.

DATA ON CYBERBULLYING AND STALKING

What is worrying, observes Bozzola, is that "the most vulnerable may be exposed to various risks, including cyberbullying which affects 7% of children between the ages of 11 and 13 and 5.2% of adolescents between the ages of between 14 and 17 years or stalking which affects more than 600 minors in Italy ".

NOT ONLY ONLINE RISKS

“It is not possible to go back – affirms Bozzola -. But informing families of the dangers on the net related to the use of social media by minors is part of our task as doctors ”.

Above all because, the expert recalls, "the greatest risks associated with the use of social media by minors are represented by: depression, eating disorders, cyberbullying, psychological problems, sleep disorders, addiction, anxiety, problems related to the sexual sphere , behavioral problems, distorted perception of one's body, reduced physical activity, online grooming, vision problems, headache and dental caries ”.

WHAT THE DATA SAY ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH OF THE YOUNGEST

A recent study , in which Bozzola participated, published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics and which investigated the impact of social media on the well-being of adolescents, observed that: if from March 2020 to March 2021 the total accesses of under 18s to Emergency rooms almost halved (-48.2%), largely due to the fear of contagions, on the contrary, accesses for minors with pathologies of neuropsychiatric interest increased by 83.1%.

Even more worrying is the detail of the data, according to which accesses for suicidal ideation in particular increased by 147%, followed by depression (+ 115%), eating disorders (+ 78.4%) and psychosis (+ 17, 2%).

A COMMON EVIL TO YOUNG PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD

Bozzola explained that "it is not yet clear whether the use of social media leads to greater depression or whether these depressive symptoms cause people to seek social media more" but, as severalinternational studies now state, "there is a correlation between internalizing symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, and the use of social media ”.

“This happens almost everywhere. For example, – concludes Bozzola – in Sweden, spending more than 2 hours on social media has been associated with a higher probability of depression. Likewise in Egypt, students who have problematic use of the internet have a higher risk of psychiatric comorbidities, such as depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies ”.

An excellent remedy that guarantees results within a few weeks, the experts suggest, is certainly physical activity, "even if mild / moderate, but regular, or 3 times a week". Without forgetting that, in addition to warding off anxiety and depression, it prevents other problems such as the risk of developing overweight and obesity.


This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/sanita/quanto-sono-responsabili-i-social-media-della-depressione-di-adolescenti-e-bambini/ on Sun, 02 Oct 2022 06:09:55 +0000.