Social Media Pressure Can Lead to Anxiety and Depression in Teens

Teenage Anxiety and Social MediaWritten by Jonathan Vernon
New research sheds light on teenagers’ use of social media, suggesting the pressure to be online 24 hours a day disrupts their sleep patterns and may lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
Researchers say the pressure for teenagers to be connected via social media 24 hours a day may impact sleep quality and lead to anxiety and depression.
The research team – including Dr. Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott from the University of Glasgow in the UK – recently presented their findings at The British Psychological Society (BPS) Developmental and Social Psychology Section Annual Conference in Manchester, UK.
To reach their findings, the team asked 467 teenagers ages 11-17 from a single school to complete a questionnaire.
The students were asked questions around self-esteem, anxiety, depression and sleep quality. They was also asked questions about their emotional investment in social media, such as “How many hours do you use social media on a typical day?” and “How long do you use social media after the time you intended to fall asleep?”
The team notes that a researcher was on hand if they needed support while answering these questions.
The social media platforms the teenagers reported using included Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube, the team told Medical News Today.
Nighttime social media users most vulnerable
The researchers found that teenagers who used social media and had high emotional investment in social media had poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem and higher rates of anxiety and depression than teenagers who were less emotionally invested in social media.
Fast facts about anxiety
Anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children
Around 80% of children in the US have an anxiety disorder, and around 60% with depression are not getting treatment
Anxiety disorders often go hand in hand with depression, eating disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Learn more about anxiety
The researchers found that this association was particularly strong for teenagers who used social media at night.
Explaining why this might be, Dr. Woods told MNT that “there is pressure to be available 24/7 and not responding to posts or texts immediately can increase anxiety. Also, [there is] anxiety around ‘missing out.'”
The suggestion is that the pressure teenagers feel around social media can cause anxiety and depression, which may lead to poor sleep quality, exacerbating the problem.
Commenting on the overall findings, Dr. Woods says:
“While overall social media use impacts on sleep quality, those who log on at night appear to be particularly affected. This may be mostly true of individuals who are highly emotionally invested. This means we have to think about how our kids use social media, in relation to time for switching off.”
To better understand the reasons for the link between social media use and wellbeing, the team says further research is required.

Related CE Courses:

Nearly every client who walks through a health professional’s door is experiencing some form of anxiety. Even if they are not seeking treatment for a specific anxiety disorder, they are likely experiencing anxiety as a side effect of other clinical issues. For this reason, a solid knowledge of anxiety management skills should be a basic component of every therapist’s repertoire. Clinicians who can teach practical anxiety management techniques have tools that can be used in nearly all clinical settings and client diagnoses. Anxiety management benefits the clinician as well, helping to maintain energy, focus, and inner peace both during and between sessions. The purpose of this course is to offer a collection of ready-to-use anxiety management tools.


This CE test is based on the book “Psychological Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Fundamentals and Beyond” (2006, 328 pages). The chapters in this practical and insightful guide for helping individuals with this troubling disorder, written by prominent specialists, provide practical, step-by-step descriptions of psychological approaches to treating OCD. After explicating the general, underlying features of the disorder, the contributors to this volume describe evidence-based behavioral and cognitive approaches, such as exposure and ritual prevention and cognitive restructuring. Subsequent chapters discuss how to apply these strategies with particular presentations of OCD, including fears of contamination; doubting and checking; incompleteness concerns; religious, sexual, and aggressive obsessions; and compulsive hoarding. Also included are discussions of more advanced issues, including dealing with treatment resistance and comorbidity and treating OCD in special populations.


Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.This introductory course provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).