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A new study suggests that extended use of electronic devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets may cause symptoms of depression in teens.According to researchers from the San Diego State University and Florida State University, people, particularly teens who spend more time on social media are more vulnerable to develop depression.
"One hour, maybe two hours [a day] doesn't increase risk all that much.But once you get to three hours - and especially four and then, really, five hours and beyond — that's where there's much more significant risk of suicide attempts, thinking about suicide and major depression," said Jean M.Twenge, lead author of the study from the San Diego State University.
The researchers analyzed numerous surveys to determine when the rise of depression cases began and what may have contributed to the rising number.According to the 2017 report from Center for Disease Control and Prevention, depression and suicide are significant public health concerns with more than 40,000 Americans dying by suicide each year.
- An increase of 30 percent in caseloads related to students seeking help for mental health issues between 2009 and 2010, and 2014 and 2015 at 93 university counseling centers.These mental health concerns showed prominence in anxiety and mood disorders, and suicidal thoughts, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health in 2015.
- According to reports from Anderssen in 2013 and Noguchi in 2014, there was an increase in counseling use among high school students.
- Just when the rise of depression and suicide among teens began in late 2012, smartphone ownership crossed the 50 percent threshold, according to the Pew Research Center.About 73 percent of teens had access to smartphones by 2015.
- Suicide risk factor is 73 percent higher for teens who spend more than five hours a day online than those who spend an hour per day.Suicide risk factor includes depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide planning or attempting to suicide.
- Two studies in 2013 and in 2017 found that spending too much time on social media led to the unhappiness of users, while unhappiness did not lead to spending more time on social media.
- A study in 2016 revealed that participants who gave up Facebook for a week reported feeling less depressed.
Twenge also expressed the gender difference in the study with boys spending more time on computer games while girls being more into social media.
"For girls, a lot of social media revolves around concerns about popularity — am I going to get likes on this photograph, do I look good enough in this picture?" said Twenge.
An experimental psychologist, Andrew Przbylski, at the University of Oxford, responded to the researchers' conclusion about social media being the culprit of mood shifts among teens.According to Przbylski, teens may simply be more open to admitting negative emotion, such as feeling sad or worried.Social media may be the easiest platform for them to express their feelings and to reach out to parents and friends.
The research did not eliminate other possible causes of teen depression, such as economic or financial standing of the household.Twenge simply suggested that the findings should serve a warning for parents that teens who spend more time on social media may be at risk of depression.
Parents should be alert for any emotional changes that may happen to teens.These changes include feelings of sadness, hopelessness or emptiness, annoyance or irritability, anger or frustration, low confidence and self-esteem, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness.All of these negative emotions can lead to suicidal thoughts, particularly during the phase when teens learn about acceptance and appreciation.
If your child is suffering from negative emotional changes, certain behavioral changes will follow.It includes insomnia or sleeping too much, decreased appetite or weight loss, use of a substance like alcohol and drugs, isolation and withdrawal from social interaction, sudden outbursts, and self-harm.
Everyone faces risk factors to trigger or develop depression.In teens, risk factors include negative impact to self-esteem caused by peer pressure, long-term bullying, academic issues, and obesity.The teen may also be a victim or witness of physical or sexual abuse, or have personality disorders like bipolar disorder or anxiety disorders, and is suffering from discrimination about their race and sexuality.
What to Do to Minimize Teen Depression
Depression is experienced by everybody at least once in their lives and the short-term version is considered normal.However, long-term depression can cause dangerous consequences to the affected person and people around them.You can help minimize the effects of depression and improve the lives of those who suffer by reaching out.
1.Take control of your stress by boosting self-esteem.Do not be afraid to open up to your family and friends about the stress you experience.You can embark on an exercise regimen or join activities related to your interests to improve your confidence and self-redeem.The boost helps improve your view about self-worth.
2.During times of crisis, reach out to people close to you.Talk and express your feelings so they can understand and help you go through the experience.Moral support is very important to people suffering from depression.
3.If your depression gets worse, never reject the idea of seeking a professional.Talk to a therapist to discuss your depression and learn the ways to manage the negative feelings you experience.