Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about how Instagram was affecting teen mental health. In particular, some internal studies at Facebook (which owns Instagram) appeared to confirm that when teen girls used the site, they suffered poorer body image and were at increased risk for depression and eating disorders.
But is social media use itself at fault for making teen mental health worse? While some studies suggest it is, others paint a more nuanced picture, finding it difficult to pinpoint problems with screen time itself versus other factors sometimes associated with social media use that may reduce teen well-being—like cyberbullying or social isolation. Plus, current conclusions are often based on data from a single point in time, which makes it hard to prove that extended screen time actually causes poorer mental health.
Now, findings from an international study on teens (details below) add more to this debate and point toward potential guidelines for screen use. Focusing on over 577,000 adolescents from 42 countries across Europe and North America, the study’s results suggest that we might not have to worry about screen time in smaller doses, until it reaches a certain harmful level, and that exercise can play a protective role no matter how much time a teen spends on screens. [Read more…] about Study finds ultimate hack to protect teen brains from harmful screen time: Exercise (and good role-modeling)