There is no simple answer to whether spending time on media causes children to have mental health problems, as this is a highly complex issue. Some research indicates that there is a correlation between the two, while other studies are inconclusive.

One study, published in the journal Pediatrics in 2014, looked at the impact of media use on the mental health of children and adolescents. The researchers found that there was a significant association between higher levels of media use and increased odds of mental health problems. However, they also noted that the direction of the association was not clear – it was possible that children with mental health problems were more likely to spend more time on media, rather than the other way around.

Another study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in 2016, looked at the association between television viewing and suicide in children and adolescents. The researchers found that suicide rates increased with increased levels of television viewing. However, it is important to note that this study did not take into account other potential confounding factors, such as family history of mental health problems.

Overall, the research on this topic is inconclusive. Some studies suggest that there is a link between media use and mental health problems, while others find no significant association. There are many factors that can contribute to mental health problems, so it is difficult to isolate the impact of media use.

Electronic media can also cause children to be more aggressive. 

Nowadays, most children and teenagers have their own smartphones, tablets, and computers. Along with the great advantages of the digital age come some risks, including negative effects on mental health. Spending too much time on electronic media may lead to problems such as anxiety, depression, and aggression.

One study of over 3,500 teen girls found that those who spent more than five hours a day on electronic devices were more likely to have depressive symptoms. Another study of over 1,800 middle school students found that those who reported frequent use of digital media were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

 Electronic media can also cause children to be more aggressive. One study of over 1,500 boys and girls found that those who were exposed to high levels of violence in movies, TV, and video games were more likely to be aggressive.

While it is important for children to use electronic media for educational purposes, it is also important for them to spend time playing outside, reading, and interacting with friends and family. unplugging from electronic devices from time to time can help children to stay healthy and happy.

The activity of young people on social media largely mirrors their lives in the physical world: children and teenagers navigate the streams of their social networks, establishing new relationships, strengthening existing ones, and sometimes minimizing or ending them. Whether online or in the real world, young people will encounter bad behavior, whether it’s directed at them or at someone or something else. How they respond to bad behavior is an opportunity for them to learn important life skills.

The Pew Research Center’s 2018 survey of U.S. teens determined that one in six teenagers have experienced at least one of six different forms of abusive behavior online:

Name-calling (42%)

Spreading false rumors (32%)

Receiving unsolicited explicit images (25%)

Having their activities and whereabouts tracked by someone other than a parent (21%)

Someone making physical threats (16%)

Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7%)

The survey found that 90% of teens believe online harassment is a problem for people their age, and 63% identify it as a “major problem.” Yet, the most recent Pew survey of teenagers’ use of social media and other technology, also conducted in 2018, revealed some interesting findings. It found that only 24% of teens believe social media has a generally negative effect, while 31% say its effect is positive and 45% believe its impact is neither positive nor negative.

The teens who think social media is generally a negative influence say it increases bullying and rumor-mongering (27%), or it harms relationships and makes them less meaningful (17%). However, only a small number believe social media use could “lead to psychological issues or drama.”

Most people — young and old — are able to moderate their use of social media so it doesn’t take over their lives. However, 20% of people who have at least one social media account feel they have to check them at least once every three hours to avoid feeling anxious. This phenomenon goes beyond “fear of missing out,” or FOMO. In fact, it now has its own name: social media anxiety disorder, as reported by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

The condition is similar to social and other anxiety disorders, which the ADAA states are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. The symptoms of social media anxiety disorder include the following:

Stopping to check social media in the middle of a conversation

Spending more than six hours each day using social media

Lying about the amount of time spent on social media

Withdrawing from family and friends

Failing in attempts to cut back on social media use

Neglecting or losing interest in school, work and favorite activities

Experiencing severe nervousness, anxiety or withdrawal symptoms when not able to check social media

Having an overwhelming desire to share on social media feeds

Another mental health disorder directly related to social media is “Facebook depression.” The American Academy of Pediatrics describes it as follows: when adolescents and teens who spend time on social media begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression as a result of “the intensity of the online world .” Aspects of social media that contribute to Facebook depression are friend tallies, status updates and pictures of friends enjoying themselves, all of which can make children with negative self-images feel worse about themselves.

Many potential risks of social media’s impact on young people’s mental health are overlooked by parents, teachers and the young people themselves. For example, obsessive use of social media by adolescents and teens can lead to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impulsive disorder, disruption of proper mental functions, paranoia and loneliness, according to the ADAA.


While there is evidence to suggest that spending time on media can have negative effects on children’s mental health, there is also evidence that shows that this is not always the case. The truth is that more research is needed to determine the effects of media on children’s mental health. In the meantime, it is important for parents to be aware of the potential risks and to monitor their children’s media use carefully.