*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
Social media use may have different effects on wellbeing in adolescent boys and girls, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.
Researchers at the University of Essex and UCL found an association between increased time spent on social media in early adolescence (age 10) and reduced wellbeing in later adolescence (age 10-15)—but only among girls.
Dr. Cara Booker, the corresponding author said, “Our findings suggest that it is important to monitor early interactions with social media, particularly in girls, as this could have an impact on wellbeing later in adolescence and perhaps throughout adulthood.”
The authors found that adolescent girls used social media more than boys and social media interaction increased with age for both boys and girls. At age 13, about a half of girls were interacting on social media for more than 1 hour per day, compared to just one third of boys. By age 15, both genders increased their social media use but girls continued to use social media more than boys, with 59% of girls and 46% of boys interacting on social media for one or more hours per day.
Wellbeing appeared to decline throughout adolescence in both boys and girls, as reflected in scores for happiness and other aspects of wellbeing. Dr. Booker said: “Since we did not observe an association between social media use and wellbeing among boys, other factors, such as the amount of time spent gaming, might be associated with the boys’ observed decline in wellbeing.”