Posted by on June 21, 2022 10:34 am
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Parents’ social media use has major impact on teenage mental health: Study

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Parents’ social media use has major impact on teenage mental health: Study

Heather Hamilton June 21, 09:37 AMJune 21, 10:03 AM

When it comes to determining what affects adolescents’ mental health the most, the amount of time spent on social media or the age at which teenagers first receive a smartphone may not be the key driving factors, according to a new study released Tuesday.

More than 2.5 million of America’s youth reported having coped with severe major depression — a number that increased by nearly 197,000 from last year, according to Mental Health America.

While routines of mindless scrolling can negatively affect teenagers’ mental health and body image, a new research study from the Wheatley Institution found that parents’ social media use may hold a more significant role.


“We found that depression was higher in teens when their parents reported higher levels of personal social media use,” the authors of the study said. “Specifically, about 10% of teens are depressed when their parent uses social media at a low level, compared to nearly 40% of teens being depressed at the highest levels of parent social media use — meaning that adolescents are nearly four times as likely to be depressed if their parents are high level social media users.”

The study found that teenagers are frustrated by their parents’ social media use, noting it as a distraction.

“This may indirectly impact adolescent mental health and behavioral outcomes, especially if children feel like their parents invalidate their experiences by being less than present in the moment,” the study read.

The study’s data did not indicate the success of any particular approach to social media use within the family unit, noting that a “child-specific approach” that considers maturational factors and how technology is being used can yield greater positive outcomes.

“Our data arguably support calls for attention to individual differences and circumstances as families consider whether, when, and how to allow access to such technologies,” the authors said.


The study considered correlations between two survey participant samples, which included one group of 1,231 adolescents, ranging from 10 to 17 years of age, and a second group of 201 adolescents (ages 10-17) and their parents between May and August 2021.

The surveys collected both quantitative and qualitative data. The study indicated it was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board of Brigham Young University.

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