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Anxiety, depression? Blame it on pressure to be get-at-able 24/7 online

You may want to rethink how your kids use social media as a new study has revealed that the pressure to be constantly available and respond 24/7 on online accounts can cause depression, anxiety and reduce sleep quality for teenagers.

The researchers, Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott of the University of Glasgow, provided questionnaires for 467 teenagers regarding their overall and night-time specific social media use.

A further set of tests measured sleep quality, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and emotional investment in social media which relates to the pressure felt to be available 24/7 and the anxiety around, for example, not responding immediately to texts or posts

Lead researcher Cleland Woods explained that evidence is increasingly supporting a link between social media use and wellbeing, particularly during adolescence, but the causes of this are unclear.

Analysis showed that overall and night-time specific social media use along with emotional investment were related to poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem as well as higher anxiety and depression levels.

Cleland Woods added that while overall social media use impacts on sleep quality, those who log on at night appear to be particularly affected. This may be mostly true of individuals who are highly emotionally invested. This means people have to think about how their kids use social media, in relation to time for switching off.

The study is presented at the BPS Developmental and Social Psychology Section annual conference taking place from the 9 to 11 September at The Palace Hotel in Manchester.