HONOLULU — With a majority of U.S. adults and teenagers (68 percent and 71 percent, respectively) using Facebook and with many users checking social media every day, the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted new policy highlighting the negative health impacts of social media usage. According to several recent studies, there is a notable link between increased use of social media and increased levels of anxiety and depression. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a large amount of time on social media sites, and advises parents to talk to their children and adolescents about online use.

To tackle these challenges, the new AMA policy urges schools to provide safe and effective educational programs through which students can learn to identify and mitigate the onset of mental health impacts caused by social media usage.

“According to research conducted by Pew, across the country, nearly a quarter of teens are online ‘almost constantly,’ and 92 percent go online every day,” said AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH. “Social media has the power to bring people closer together and to build communities, but research also is showing a link between increased social media use and an uptick in anxiety and depression. In addition to increasing awareness of these dangers among parents and teens, we must do more in our schools to identify and address them as early as possible.”

In addition to the Facebook usage numbers cited above, Pew found that among American teens, 52 percent use Instagram and 41 percent use Snapchat. Among the 68 percent of U.S. adults who use Facebook, 76 percent check their account daily.

 

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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.