Social sites linked to teen depression
London - Teenagers who spend more than two hours a day on Facebook and other social networking sites are much more likely to have mental health problems, a study found.
These range from symptoms of depression to having seriously contemplated suicide.
It is not clear whether the websites are fuelling psychiatric problems or whether youngsters who are struggling to cope seek solace in the internet. But the researchers say the link should not be ignored.
More than 700 Canadian pupils aged between 12 and 18 were asked how many hours a day they spent on social media sites and then quizzed about their mental health.
One in six rated their mental health as poor and one in four had clear symptoms of depression and anxiety. Those in poor mental health were three times as likely to use social networking sites for more than two hours a day as those with no problems. Teenagers who had thought about killing themselves were six times as likely to spend a lot of time on Facebook and other sites.
Writing in the journal Cyber-psychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, the Ottawa researchers said: “Parents should consider frequent use of social networking sites as a possible indicator of, or risk for, mental health problems among children.”
Facebook declined to comment.