The headline was horrifying.
"12-Year-Old Girl Live-Streams Her Suicide on Facebook"
Our lives and the lives of our children have become entrenched in the use of social media. We check social media on our smartphones almost every minute of the day. We even sleep with our phones next to us in bed!
Some studies are finding that the more time that teens are spending on social media, the greater their risk for depression.
According to a study by the University of Pittsburgh,
over 1,787 U.S. young adults ages 19-32 visited about 30 different platforms, 30 times a week and spent an average of 61 minutes a day on those various social media sites. Of those, a high amount of depression was found in no less than 25 percent of those that participated in the study.
Researchers are still trying to determine if it's the social media that is causing the depression or if higher numbers of teens with depression flock to social media.
My assessment is that the use of social media can definitely contribute to depression symptoms.
I can't tell you how many times kids tell me that they don't feel loved, or they don't feel like they are "good enough" or "pretty enough" or even just "enough."
When asked why they feel this way, they give example after example of where they are being ignored or bullied or snubbed on social media (or at least they think they are.)
When people get a "like" or a comment on social media, it gives them a temporary sense of feeling good.
One study says, "every time we post, share, 'like,' comment or send an invitation online, we are creating an expectation...We feel a sense of belonging and advance our concept of self through sharing."
Conversely, when we don't get the positive responses we desire, we can experience negative feelings.
We may feel that because we didn't get a response on our Facebook post that people don't like us, that we're not good enough.
While researchers have found a correlation between the use of social media and depression, they are in no way are suggesting that everyone that uses social media is going to get depressed.
Whether you are concerned that your teen is depressed or not, it is still a good idea to monitor their social media usage in terms of sites they are visiting and the amount of time they are spending on them.
If you or someone you know has concerns that social media is causing depressive thoughts for your teen or worsening your teen's depression, we welcome you to give us a call. We provide free consultations to worried parents.
Don't wait to call if you're worried about your child. We have caring, confidential providers at Doorways who will listen without judgment and help point you in the right direction.
We are here to help.
Jan Hamilton, MS, PMHNP-BC
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
1825 E. Northern Ave., Ste. 200
Phoenix, AZ 85020
PS. We are hiring eating disorders specialists and family counselors. If you know of anyone who would enjoy helping teens, young adults, and families in a fun, faith-based, environment, please share this email with them.