Study shows that teenagers’ sleep can be affected by social media


A study carried out at the University of Buffalo in the US has shown that teenagers may have a negative impact on their sleep due to social media and that this is almost entirely down to incidences of cyber bullying.

Connections between bullying, depression and sleep

The original study looked into the relationship between cyber bullying and depression, however it went further and made connections with sleep quality.

More than 800 young teens were studied to assess sleep quality, cyber aggression and depression by Misol Kwon from the University and the results of the study are due to be presented at the annual meeting of Associated Sleep Professionals being held in Texas in June.

15% of teens bullied online

US statistics show that one third of teens have experienced depression that had affected their sleep and included irritable feelings, anger and social withdrawal. Kwon’s study shows that 15% of teens had been bullied online and that this led to depression that affected their school work.

Kwon suggests that understanding the associations between cyber bullying, sleep and depression could be important in offering education on sleep and how it interacts with those affected by depression due to bullying.

Well being only minimally affected by screen time

Meanwhile a further study of 12,000 teenagers carried out in the UK by a team at the University of Oxford has shown that social media may not affect young people as badly as first thought. This study showed that teens are more influenced by friends, family and school life than their online existence. In fact, online behaviour accounted for around 1% of teenagers well being.

The publishers of this study did agree that screen time could interfere with important family time, exercise and sleep and that this could affect mental health. They point out that screen time should be limited during the hour before bedtime to help ensure the best sleep possible. However they conclude that limiting screen time in other ways is unlikely to affect well being significantly.

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