Excessive use of smartphones and social media can have serious consequences on the mental health of teenagers. A comprehensive analysis of various studies, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that smartphones and social media increased the chances of mental distress. This included serious consequences like self-injurious and suicidal behavior. The effect seems to be greater for girls.
The Canadian team from The Hospital for Sick Children used longitudinal, randomized and controlled studies for the analysis. It focused on linking smartphone and social media usage with suicidal behavior and mental distress. However, it did not consider online gaming. The aim of the exercise is to help clinicians working with the youth and their families in reducing the harmful effects of social media and smartphone use.
Social media affects the self-view of teenagers through negative interactions and harmful comparisons. It can normalize and promote self-harm. Excessive smartphone usage can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, creating a negative impact on cognitive control, socioemotional functioning and academic performance. Finally, the team recommended clinicians to focus on reducing social media usage rather than eradicating it. Asking parents to discuss and set boundaries, the article also advised them to set model smartphone behavior.