New research has suggests teens that spend more than two hours a day on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram may have an increased risk of mental health issues.

Researchers and the Ottawa Public Health Department reported that the heavy use of social networks by adolescents is linked to poor mental health, high psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, and an unmet need for mental health support.

It is said that although heavy use of the sites may be linked to mental health issues, the sites also provide a setting in which support services could be provided to a venerable population. Researchers believe the findings send an important message to parents and study authors are suggesting an increase in mental health support services offered on these sites.

In the study, Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, M.D., and Rosamund Lewis, M.D., from the Ottawa Public Health department (Ottawa, Canada) analysed data on students in grades seven to 12. They specifically reviewed data from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey.

The discovered about 25% of students reported using social networking sites for more than two hours daily. In the study, researchers compare time spent using social networking sites to the teens’ self-reports of psychological well-being and unmet need for mental health support.

“This is where we see social networking sites, which may be a problem for some, also being a solution,” said Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., M.B.A.

“Since teens are on the sites, it is the perfect place for public health and service providers to reach out and connect with this vulnerable population and provide health promotion systems and supports.”

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