Two major factors which cause social media to impact mental health for both genders are online harassment and interrupted sleep. File photo

Girls are twice as likely to show signs of depression linked to social media by the age of 14 when compared with boys, according to research.

Researchers at University College London found girls tend to spend more time on social media – and also experience worse psychological effects from doing so.

They said two major factors which cause social media to impact mental health for both genders are online harassment and interrupted sleep.

Scientists found girls were more likely to suffer from these issues because they may be more active on the chat functions of the sites.

The paper, published in the EClinicalMedicine journal, is the first of its kind to look at associations between social media and depressive symptoms. It analysed data from nearly 11,000 14-year-olds.

The study involved teenagers completing information on their social media use, online harassment and sleep patterns.

Girls were heavier social media users, with two-fifths using it for more than 3 hours per day compared with one-fifth of boys.

The findings showed that 38% of heavy social media users – those using it for five or more hours a day – showed signs of severe depression.

Meanwhile, 40% of girls had experience of online harassment, compared with just 25% of boys.

In addition, 40% said their sleep was often disrupted, compared with just 28% of boys.

© Daily Mail