Who's more at risk from social media - girls or boys?

Every other day, it seems, there’s a scary headline linking social media with mental health risks. So you probably won’t be shocked to hear that yet another major study has found a strong link between heavy social media use and depression - this time, among 14-year-olds.

What may surprise you (or not, if you happen to be the parent of a teenage girl!) is that among that “heaviest users” group, girls outnumber boys two to one.

The more a person of either gender used social media, the greater the likelihood of depression. But here’s the thing.  Even when boys and girls spent exactly the same amount of time on social media, the depression risk for girls was significantly higher.

Using data from over 10,000 14-year-olds who took part in the UK Millennium Cohort Study, researchers found 40% of girls admitted being on their social media accounts for more than three hours a day - compared to only 20% of boys.

Only four out of every 100 girls, compared to 10% of boys, reported abstaining entirely.

Across the board, more hours spent scrolling translated into greater risk of depression. But there was an unexpected skew in that risk once use-hours were held constant.  


Among teens who were on social media more than five hours a day, girls’ depression scores rose to 50% - while boys only increased to 35%.

Why? No definitive answer has yet emerged, but clearly boys and girls are interacting differently on social media, and consuming its contents in different ways.

evil queen

Are girls more likely compare their own images with the ones they see online - to the detriment of their wellbeing?

Some experts have suggested that girls make more comparisons between themselves and the images they view in a way that boys don’t. And that “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” habit is notoriously bad for mental health.

Common factors for both boys and girls who are heavy scrollers include lack of sleep and cyberbullying.

Researchers are still untangling the social media knot, and its effect on our children. But one conclusion is clear: Less time on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook is better for them than more time. Family Zone is helping parents across Australia - and the world - to protect children from over-use of social media, gaming, livestreaming, and more.

Start your free trial today

Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Cyber Safety, Social Media, parenting, digital parenting, teens on social media

Try Family Zone for FREE

Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

Free Trial
Subscribe to our newsletter
Follow us on social media
Popular posts
Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
Parental Controls | Screen time | youtube | smartphones | WhatsApp | suicide | self-harm | momo
MOMO unmasked
Parental Controls | Screen time | musical.ly | online predators | tiktok
It's the world's most popular app. And you've probably never heard of it.
Parental Controls | Pornography | Cyber Safety | Social Media | parenting | digital parenting
Pornstar to parents: shame on you!
Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | vpn
VPN apps: what are they and why are teens now using them?
Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | instagram
30 seconds: the time it takes to find porn on Instagram

Recent posts

 
Portrait of a paedophile

Recent figures show that online images of children being sexually abused have exploded over the past year. But who is fueling this ...

 
Screen-time and school performance

Your child’s grades are slipping - and their screen-time is expanding. Which of the following is most likely to blame? Too much

 
To raise a mentally strong human, do this

We all know the phrase “Happy wife, happy life.” But it turns out Mum’s happiness may be one of one of the secrets to raising successful, ...

 
Child sex abuse online "at breaking point"

The amount of child exploitation material online has doubled in the past year. What on earth is going on?