They also reported how many hours per day they spent playing video games, on social media sites, watching television, or doing other activities on the computer. This study assessed screen time and depression utilizing an annual survey in a sample of adolescents who entered the seventh grade in 31 schools in the Greater Montreal area.
"More research is needed to see whether there is a causal relationship between screen time and depression in young people".
An estimated 20 percent of people have experienced at least one period of depression by the time they reach adulthood.
For years, experts have pointed a finger at phones as a possible factor in depression and other mental health problems.
The teenage years are a time of considerable brain changes and inevitable emotional turmoil.
Since its advent in the early 2000s, social media has joined other forms of screen time as a potentially harmful preoccupation for teenagers.
But research has struggled to prove this causation. "One reason why this may be is that comparing your life on social media to the "perfect lives" of others could be having a bad effect on your mental health".
MONDAY, July 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) - Too much social media might be too much for the mental well-being of teenagers, new research suggests.
Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with flawless bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle.
Conrod's team followed about 4,000 Canadian teenagers, aged 12 to 16 years, for four years.
The study demonstrated that if teens reported increases in social media use, as well as television viewing, their depression symptoms increased over the same year.
Further digging suggested that Upward Social Comparison and Reinforcing Spirals play a significant role in the development of depressive symptoms.
"The biggest surprise for me was that video gaming and depression were not related at all over the course of four years", he said.
"Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with ideal bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle", says Dr Elroy Boers, a post-doctoral psychiatry researcher and lead author of the study.
The study results showed that if adolescents' social media use and television viewing surpassed their overall average level of use in the year, then their depressive symptoms also increased in that year.
Both social media and TV served to reinforce spirals, to use the psychiatrists' term, by serving up more of the depressing content that already-depressive minds seek out.
"If there is, we need to know how this is happening and how to prevent depression in young people", said Dr. Michael Bloomfield, an excellence fellow and head of the Translational Psychiatry Research Group and consultant psychiatrist at University College London in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study.
"If one is being exposed to the same content over and over and over again, that spiral or loop maintains itself", said Boers.
Elroy Boers, who co-authored the study, said the results suggest that media portraying an "idealized" image of adolescence are more likely to hurt teens' self-esteem.