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Early Social Media Use May Harm Teen Girls’ Well-Being

Findings show correlation between social media interaction and well-being stronger for girls

MONDAY, March 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) — High levels of social media interaction in early adolescence may have negative implications for later well-being and happiness in girls, according to a study published online March 20 in BMC Public Health.

Cara L. Booker, Ph.D., from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from five waves of the youth questionnaire, Understanding Society. Social media interaction was measured by daily frequency of chatting on social websites, while well-being was evaluated by happiness within six domains of life and via the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.

The researchers found that there are gender differences in the relationship between interacting on social media and well-being. Among females, there were significant correlations between interacting on social media and well-being. For females, higher social media interaction at age 10 was associated with declines in well-being later on, but this interaction was not seen among males. Results were similar for both measures of well-being.

“High levels of social media interaction in early adolescence have implications for well-being in later adolescence, particularly for females. The lack of an association among males suggests other factors might be associated with their reduction in well-being with age,” the authors write. “These findings contribute to the debate on causality and may inform future policy and interventions.”

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