Many studies have shown that girls have a higher rate of depression than boys, however studies are recently showing that this could be due to the increased time girls spend on social media in comparison to boys.

New research reveals, that as many as three-quarters of 14-year-old girls who suffer from depression also have low self-esteem, are unhappy with how they look and sleep for seven hours or less each night; with online bullying and poor sleep contributing to their low mood.

Prof Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, says “Girls, it seems, are struggling with these aspects of their lives more than boys, in some cases considerably so.”

These additional results, have renewed concern about the fact that many more girls and young women exhibit a range of mental health problems than boys and young men, and the damage these can cause, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Prof Kelly goes on to say, ““The link between social media use and depressive symptoms was stronger for girls compared with boys. For girls, greater daily hours of social media use corresponded to a stepwise increase in depressive symptoms.”

Social media is also connected to terrible sleeping habits especially amongst 14-year-olds showing clinical signs of depression. Sleep disruption is caused by adolescents staying up late on social media apps (such as Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp etc.) and being awoken by alerts from their phones which, usually for teenagers, are kept besides them.

Government ministers and Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, have called on social media companies to do much more to limit the amount of time young people spend using their platforms. He suggested taxing companies to help the NHS cover the costs of treating soaring numbers of under-18s suffering problems such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and psychosis.