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The Battle: Is social media depressing teens?

Chances are if you have a teenager, you’ve engaged in the battle over whether or not social media is a danger. Your age may very well indicate which side of the battle you are on. No one will question that teenage suicide is on the rise as well as depression and anxiety among teens. This tragedy is something we all want to get to the bottom of, hence San Diego State University headed a recent study to get to the bottom of what is the cause of this “increase in negative psychological states” among our teens and young adults. The study found the rates of reported symptoms of major depression in this group has increased 52 percent over the past year and girls are more vulnerable than boys. Psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues report their findings make a strong argument for smartphones and social media being the biggest contributing factor to the increase in depression and suicide. Though she says it also depends on the amount of time teens are spending on their phones. This decrease in actual human interaction is also contributing to the increased sadness. Attachment theory would have a field day with this one! Mary Fristad of Ohio State was not involved in this study but says these findings ring “completely true” with her clients, ages 10-college age. She finds her patients are concerned “not about how much fun they look forward to having over the weekend, but about what event can they post on Snapchat so that other people will know they have friends.” The article goes on to state the issues that we cannot say for certain that the blame lies entirely with social media and smartphones because unfortunately the world we live in today is much more glum in general than in years past. The economy is failing and the future doesn’t look so bright for our children, we have the opioid crisis on the rise and people everywhere are numbing out rather than connecting. Sadly, this is all true, but all is not lost. We can all benefit from better quality relationships in our lives. Encourage positive connection as often as you can, sit down and talk to each other face to face, play a round or two of an old fashioned staring contest, and don’t be afraid of a healthy debate with your teens, after all that is connection! Just make sure you’re using your “old skool” communications skills and teach by example. See more at

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