Tuesday December 10, 2019

Researchers Associate Social Media Usage With Anxiety Among Teenagers

Study says that social media use is linked with anxiety among adolescents

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Anxiety
Social Media Usage can increase anxiety related issues among teenagers. Pixabay

Researchers have found that social media use, television viewing and computer use, but not video gaming, are linked to an increase in anxiety symptoms among adolescents.

The study, published by Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, shows that a higher than average frequency of social media use, television viewing and computer use over four years predicts more severe symptoms of anxiety for the same time frame.

“These findings suggest that one way to help teens manage anxiety could be to help them limit the amount of time they spend in front of screens”, said a study researcher Patricia Conrod from the University of Montreal in Canada.

Over and above a potential common vulnerability to both sets of behaviours, the study demonstrates that if a teen experienced an increase in their social media use, television viewing and computer use in a given year which surpassed their overall average level of use, then his or her anxiety symptoms also increased in that same year.

Furthermore, when adolescents decreased their social media use, television viewing, and computer use, their symptoms of anxiety became less severe. Thus, no lasting effects were found.

Social Media and anxiety
Studies have found that higher than average frequency of social media use, television viewing and computer use over four years predicts more severe symptoms of anxiety. Pixabay

“It appears that computer use is uniquely associated to increases in anxiety, potentially in relation to using the computer for homework activities, but this needs further research,” said the study lead author Elroy Boers.

For the findings, the research team followed almost 4,000 Canadian teenagers from age 12 to 16 who were part of the Co-Venture Trial. Each year of high school, teens were asked to self-report time spent in front of digital screens and specified amount of time spent engaging in four different types of screen time activities (social media, television, video gaming and computer use).

Moreover, the teenagers completed self-reported questionnaires on various anxiety symptoms at ages 12 to 16.

Then, after data collection, state-of-the-art statistical analyses were performed to assess the between-person, with-person, and lagged-within person associations between screen time and anxiety in adolescence.

These analyses augment standard analyses by modelling the year-to-year changes of both sets of problems, thus, taking into account possible common vulnerability and possible natural developmental changes in each set of behaviours or symptoms.

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The study findings indicate social media use, television viewing, and computer use are predictors of anxiety in adolescence.

“While our results are based on observational research design, the nature of statistical approach that we used to test possible causal effects robustly controlled for any potential common underlying vulnerability to high levels of screen time and anxiety,” Conrod said. (IANS)

Next Story

Deep Sleep Can Reduce Higher Anxiety Levels

A Study strongly suggests that insufficient sleep amplifies levels of anxiety and, conversely, that deep sleep helps reduce such stress

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Deep Sleep had restored the brain's prefrontal mechanism that regulates our emotions, lowering emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety. Pixabay

Researchers have found that the type of Sleep most apt to calm and reset the anxious brain is deep sleep, also known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) slow-wave sleep, a state in which neural oscillations become highly synchronised, and heart rates and blood pressure drops.

A sleepless night can trigger up to a 30 per cent rise in anxiety levels, researchers from the University of California said.

“We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganising connections in the brain,” said study senior author Professor Matthew Walker.

“Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night,” Walker added.

“Our study strongly suggests that insufficient sleep amplifies levels of anxiety and, conversely, that deep sleep helps reduce such stress,” said study lead author Eti Ben Simon.

In a series of experiments using functional MRI and polysomnography, among other measures, researchers scanned the brains of 18 young adults as they viewed emotionally stirring video clips after a full night of sleep, and again after a sleepless night.

Anxiety levels were measured following each session via a questionnaire known as the state-trait anxiety inventory.

After a night of no sleep, brain scans showed a shutdown of the medial prefrontal cortex, which normally helps keep our anxiety in check, while the brain’s deeper emotional centres were overactive.

Deep
Researchers have found that the type of Sleep most apt to calm and reset the anxious brain is Deep sleep, also known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) slow-wave sleep, a state in which neural oscillations become highly synchronised, and heart rates and blood pressure drops. Pixabay

After a full night of sleep, during which participants’ brain waves were measured via electrodes placed on their heads, the results showed their anxiety levels declined significantly, especially for those who experienced more slow-wave NREM sleep.

“Deep sleep had restored the brain’s prefrontal mechanism that regulates our emotions, lowering emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety,” Simon said.

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Beyond gauging the sleep-anxiety connection in the 18 original study participants, the researchers replicated the results in a study of another 30 participants.

Across all the participants, the results again showed that those who got more nighttime deep sleep experienced the lowest levels of anxiety the next day.  (IANS)