Social media and its effect on Youth

More than 30 minutes a day of social media use is associated with an increased risk of internalizing problems such as depression, anxiety, social isolation, or somatic complaints in American youths, according to a study published in a journal of psychiatry.

Researchers also found an increased risk in comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems with more than 30 minutes of social media use.

In the study, researchers found that the use of social media for more than 3 hours per day was significantly associated with internalizing problems alone and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems.


Externalizing problems include behaviors such as fighting or disruptive behavior disorders (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder) or conduct problems.

In today’s era, we know social media is here to stay. How can we engage the youth to spend less time on social media? Here are some suggestions.

  • Engaging the youth in sporting activities/exercise
  • Encouraging creativity through art
  • Learning to play a musical instrument
  • Reading interesting books
  • Providing rewards for house chores
  • Family outings
  • Sightseeing trips

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Riehm KE, Feder KA, Tormohlen KN, et al. Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among US Youth. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online September 11, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2325

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