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Posted: May 22, 2023| Categories: Uncategorized

HealthWatch: Social media’s mental health toll on teens.

By Christina Guessferd

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – A growing number of researchers agree that most popular social media apps are related to an unprecedented surge in teen depression, anxiety, and loneliness over the last decade. The American Psychological Association last week published a list of recommendations for adolescent social media use.

“There’s a very different quality of connectedness in real life versus the quality of connections that are built over social media,” said Dr. Jeremiah Dickerson, a child psychiatrist at the UVM Medical Center, whose career has progressed in near-parallel with the explosion of social media and smartphones in the early 2010′s. “For some people, it’s really easy to fall into this vicious cycle, and it can be really difficult to extract yourself from that, especially if you’re continuing to use social media a lot.”

The developing minds of teenagers are especially vulnerable to the manipulative algorithms of this technology, Dickerson said. A Pew Research Center poll last year found 95% of teens use at least some social media daily and 35% are using at least one of the five most popular platforms “almost constantly.”

About one-third of teens also say they spend too much time on social media. Reward systems, like the ping of a notification for engagement on a post, trigger a chemical response in the brain that is akin to addiction. And the teenage brain, Dickerson says, is wired to respond to those rewards.

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