Social media is harming the quality of sleep among teens as they are forced to become available most of the time, says a new Scottish study.
A team of researchers from Glasgow University led by Dr Heather Cleland Woods, a sleep researcher, looked into social media habits, including whether they are pressured to be available online 24/7, and the quantity and quality of sleep among teens.
She questioned more than 400 teens with ages from 11 to 17 in a Scottish secondary school about their sleeping habits and use of social media. The questions also revolved around their mental health, such as their feelings of self-esteem or if they are showing signs of depression and anxiety.
Based on the results, social media can certainly affect the quality of sleep among teens, but the greatest effect occurs at night and especially among those who feel they have to be available for a considerable time.
Although the study does not cite the exact reason for the poor-quality sleep--if social media is keeping them awake or the teens use social media since they cannot drive themselves to sleep--it still raises some concerns for Cleland Woods and her team.
According to the lead author, adolescence is a critical time for the possible onset of depression and anxiety. National Institutes of Health Data reports that in 2013 more than 2 million teens experienced at least one depressive episode. A poor-quality sleep may only worsen or contribute to it. In previous studies such as the 2008 British research, there is a strong link between sleeping problems and depression.
Cleland Woods then urges parents to adopt the idea of digital sunset. This means that after sunset, all Internet-able devices such as smartphones and tablets must be turned off to restrict access to social media.
The study was part of Cleland Woods's presentation in the recent British Psychological Society conference.