“We found a substantial increase in major depression or suicidal thoughts, psychological distress, and more attempted suicides after 2010, versus the mid-2000s, and that increase was by far the largest in adolescents and young adults,” said lead author Jean Twenge, author of the book “iGen” and professor of psychology at San Diego State University.
The rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression in the last 12 months increased 52 percent in adolescents from 2005 to 2017 and 63 percent in young adults age 18 to 25 from 2009 to 2017, the researchers found.
One reason for the increase may be that digital media use has had a bigger impact on teens and young adults than older adults who tend to have more stable social lives.
Aaron Fobian, clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, cautions against confusing the association of social media use and mental health conditions with cause and effect.
Twenge and Fobian urge parents to limit overall social media use and encourage their children to engage in social activities.