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Social media can harm when use displaces sleep or exercise or involves bullying, finds study

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 13 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5143
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

The frequency of social media use is unlikely to cause direct harm to young girls, but if use of it displaces sleep and exercise or involves cyberbullying then it can have a negative effect, a study concludes.1

Researchers from Imperial College London and the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health at University College London looked at the associations between adolescents’ frequency of social media use and later mental health and wellbeing, and how these effects might be mediated.

They found that much of the harm attributed to social media was “unlikely to be directly related to social media use” but was instead related to what content was consumed or whether its use resulted in less sleep or physical activity.

Therefore interventions to reduce social media use to improve mental health may be misplaced, the researchers said, and instead actions to prevent cyberbullying and ensure that young people had …

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