A new study shows that video games can lower the risk of depression in teenage boys.
But the same study also shows that young girls who regularly use social media are more likely to suffer from depression in adulthood. The study results were published in the journal “Psychological Medicine”.
For the first time research on the impact between the sexes
Previous studies have warned of the potential risk of addiction to online media, especially when it comes to children. However, few studies have compared the effects between the sexes.
“Screens enable us to do a variety of activities,” said lead author Aaron Kandola in a university announcement. “Screen time guidelines and recommendations should be based on our understanding of how these various activities affect mental health and whether it makes sense to do so.”
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Long-term study with more than 11,300 subjects
The researchers analyzed data from 11,341 adolescents born in the UK between 2000 and 2002. At the age of eleven, the scientists asked how much time the study participants spend on social media, gaming or surfing the internet every day.
- Three years later, the group answered questions about symptoms of depression, such as bad mood, loss of happiness, and poor concentration.
- The team also considered other factors that can affect mental health. The se include socio-economic status, levels of physical activity, reports of bullying, and previous emotional trauma.
More social contacts through video games
The results show that girls who used social media daily from the age of 11 were at an increased risk of mental health problems three years later. Boys, on the other hand, did not experience the same effects of digital media, especially when they are less physically active.
- According to the report, 11-year-old boys who did not exercise regularly benefited psychologically from regular video games.
- On average, they experienced a 24 percent decrease in depressive symptoms compared to boys who only play games once a month.
- The study authors believe that less active boys may enjoy their games more and benefit more from online social interaction than children who regularly play outside.
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Social media can isolate young girls
Girls experienced a 13 percent increase in depressive symptoms by the age of 14 if they used social media regularly when they were younger. The se results are in line with previous studies that found that excessive use of social media can increase feelings of social isolation.
Targeted restriction of screen time
According to the researchers, more research is pending on this topic. However, they are sure that parents should specifically limit their children’s viewing time and develop effective strategies to develop healthy behavior around social media and video games.
“Our research suggests possible benefits of screen time,” explained co-author Dr. Hallgren from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. “Nevertheless, we should encourage young people to be physically active and to interrupt longer periods of sitting with light physical activity.”