Over the past few years, social media use reached a new peak, especially among teenagers. During the same period, the US saw a surge in teen suicide rates, and the two phenomena might be related. A new study explored this possible link, and showed social media has a damaging effect on the young.
Both social media use and teen suicide rates surged at the same time
Since 1990 and until recently, suicide rates among teenagers had reached quite low levels. However, the reports put up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed how the rates increased between 2010 and 2015. They couldn’t tell why this happened, but still offered a possible explanation.
Researchers observed that, together with the increase of teen suicide rates, social media use also surged. Cyberbullying now became a serious issue among children, which might put a lot of pressure on them. Also, promoting certain life standards might also cause a lot of frustration and feelings of unfulfillment among teenagers.
The correlation between the two is not clear enough
Social media focuses mostly on the good aspects of life, and teenagers can post images which make their life seem perfect. This can affect others, who are either struggling with problems, or are feeling like they don’t fit in. Not being accepted by a group of friends can have a huge impact on a teenager’s mental health, and possibly influencing the suicide rates.
For this study, researchers looked at reports measuring suicide rates between 2009 and 2015. Then, they looked at several surveys where teens aged between 13 and 18 answered questions about themselves, how much they used social media, their attitude towards the world, and possible suicidal thoughts.
However, researchers didn’t account for other factors which could have influenced the teens’ behavior and state of mind. Therefore, the findings weren’t consistent enough to establish a clear cause of high suicide rates among teenagers. Intense social media use might contribute to bad thoughts, but it’s not necessarily correlated to suicidal behavior.
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