The past decade has seen two trends rising in parallel: teen social media use and, more alarmingly, depression, anxiety, and even suicide among teenagers. A heated debate rages over whether or not the two are connected—could the rise of social media and smartphone use be hurting our kids' mental health?
Research on this topic, unfortunately, has been mixed. A new study, however, offers a novel contribution to the debate. Using 10 years of data, it observes a link between girls' social media use in early adolescence and their risk of suicide later in life.
I recently interviewed the study's lead author, Dr. Sarah Coyne, to learn more about her findings. Dr. Coyne is a professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, where her research focuses on media, childhood and adolescence, body image, and family life. A regular speaker on media use to teens and their parents, Dr. Coyne is also the creator of a video series on positive social media use.
Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.
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