Is digital/social media really altering the mental health of young adults? New information from the American Psychological Association suggests that the recent shift in mental health issues in young adults might be due in part to the rise of digital media, specifically with younger adults no older than 26 years.
Jean Twenge, PhD, a professor at San Diego State University says that this study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, showed that “U.S. adolescents and young adults in the late 2010s, versus the mid-2000s, experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts, and more attempted suicide…”. She also added that these trends were almost non-existent among adults that are 26 years and older, which suggests that there is a negative correspondence between digital media use in adolescents in the U.S.
Twenge and her associate surveyed data from more than 600,000 individuals, both adolescents and young adults, in the United States. Ages ranged from 12-25 years old. What they found was astonishing:
- 47% increase in young adults reporting suicidal thoughts or actions
- 52% in adolescents from 2005 to 2017
- 63% in young adults aged 18-25
- 71% increase in psychological distress reportings
So, is digital media having a negative impact on the well-being of young adults and teenagers? Apparently. It seems like this cultural phenomenon of social media has given birth to an insecure, lonely and depressed generation.
TimelyMD Director of Mental Health, Jan A. Hall, Ph.D., has a few suggestions to lessen the negative impact of continuous digital use.
“I suggest to parents and adults to stop electronics an hour before bed or at least 30 minutes before bed if there are problems with sleep,” Hall says. “Also, I think leaving the phone outside the bedroom is important. It’s hard for youth and some adults to set those boundaries if a friend is calling. For college students, they may want to change it to vibrate or turn it off at night if they are having sleep problems.”