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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Social Media Use by Adolescents Linked to Internalizing Behaviors

A new study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to report high levels of internalizing behaviors compared to adolescents who do not use social media at all.

The study, published online September 11 in JAMA Psychiatry, examined the amount of time adolescents reported spending on social media and two types of behaviors that can be indicators of mental health problems: internalizing and externalizing. Internalizing can involve social withdrawal, difficulty coping with anxiety or depression, or directing feelings inward. Externalizing can include aggression, acting out, disobeying or other observable behaviors.

The study found the use of social media for any amount of time was associated with both a greater risk of reporting internalizing problems alone and concurrent symptoms of both internalizing and externalizing problems. The study found no significant association with social media use and externalizing problems alone. Teens who spent at least three hours a day on social media had the greatest risk for reporting internalizing problems alone.

Ms. Kira Riehm, a doctoral student in the Bloomberg School’s department of mental health, is lead author.

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