That Instagram habit might not be making your teen depressed after all

New research suggests parents can chill a little about how screen addiction is affecting their teen's mental health.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers
2 min read

Maybe all this screen time isn't that bad after all.

James Martin/CNET

Social media use is nearly ubiquitous among today's teens, as is smartphone ownership, which has led many experts to wonder if the resulting screen addiction is leading to a spike in depression and other mental health problems. Well, a research study published Friday suggests that such fears may be overblown.

A study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, as first reported by The New York Times, combs through some 40 studies that have examined this link between social media use and depression and anxiety in teens. Its conclusion: that link has not been well-established in academic studies.

"The review highlights that most research to date has been correlational, focused on adults versus adolescents, and has generated a mix of often conflicting small positive, negative and null associations," reads the abstract of the study, which was led by Candice Odgers, a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Odgers, it turns out, was also an author on a study published in August in the journal Clinical Psychological Science that suggested the time teens are spending on their phones and online is not all bad. It tracked young adolescents to test whether more time spent using digital tech was linked to worse mental health outcomes and found "found little evidence of longitudinal or daily linkages," according to UCI News.

"It may be time for adults to stop arguing over whether smartphones and social media are good or bad for teens' mental health and start figuring out ways to best support them in both their offline and online lives," Odgers said, in reference to the August study.

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