Study: Strong parent-child ties may offset negative effects of social media


By AGENCY
  • Family
  • Friday, 01 Dec 2023

A strong parenting relationship can mitigate the mental health risks of heavy social media use for teenagers, a new survey suggests. — MARIJAN MURAT/dpa

THE NEGATIVE effects of heavy social media use on teenagers are in part offset by close parent-child ties, according to a survey conducted by US pollster Gallup.

Teens that reported a “strong, loving relationship with their parents” do not appear to have the same level of reported mental health problems as teenagers whose bonds with parents have frayed, according to the survey, which overall showed adolescents glued to social media apps reporting increased anger and sadness as a result.

After surveying more than 6,000 parents and kids, Gallup found teenagers to be spending almost five hours a day on average on social media apps and websites.

Girls on average spend longer scrolling and posting than boys, while 17-year-olds spend almost six hours a day on the apps, compared to four hours and less for younger teens.

The time spent on social media plays a role when it comes to mental health, according to the survey.

“Teens who spend five or more hours per day on social media apps are significantly more likely to report experiencing negative emotions compared with those who spend less than two hours per day,” Gallup found.

Around a quarter of teenagers who cross the five-hour threshold reported “feeling a lot of sadness” afterwards, compared with 19% of those who spend less than two hours on social media.

Parents also appear to be increasingly worried: research published by the American Medical Association in October showed twice as many reporting “specific concerns about internet addiction than substance addiction.”

A US government survey published in early 2023 showed rising levels of reported “sadness” and suicidal thoughts among US teenage girls, findings that have been linked to excessive social media use. – dpa

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