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Friday, July 27, 2018

Pediatricians Should Ask about Social Media

When doctors examine kids, especially adolescents, they often use a HEADSSS (home life, education, activities, drugs, sexual activity, safety, and suicide and/or depression) assessment to identify any potential mental health or alcohol or drug issues.

Now, an editorial in the May 2018 journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics advocates that health-care providers add in queries about social media use, including sexting, cyberbullying, and the impact of social media on self-worth.

While noting that social media does provide some positive benefits in terms of social connection and support, the researchers behind the article noted that teens who devote the most time to it are at higher risk of negative effects.

“Aberrant and/or excessive social media usage may contribute to the development of mental health disturbance in at-risk teenagers, such as feelings of isolation, depressive symptoms, and anxiety,” the authors wrote.

A study of 500 college undergrads who were active social media users, presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in May, found that how they used social media—especially passive consumption vs. active engagement—was associated with depression, with depressed users more likely to:

• Score highly on a survey of social media addiction.
• Compare themselves to others they perceived as “better off than me.”
• Say they were bothered by being tagged in an unflattering photo.