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The mental health of American teenagers has declined over the past 10 to 15 years. Symptoms of mental illness have increased, as suicide rates have doubled for girls and increased by 50% for boys over the period of 1999 to 2022. Data from a continuous large-scale survey of high school students and other evidence shows that depressive symptoms were not increasing until sometime around 2012 or 2013, but they have since risen rapidly.

New Gallup survey data, released in a new research brief from Gallup and the Institute for Family Studies, show that American teenagers spend an average of 4.8 hours per day using social media—far more time than they spend watching television, doing homework, perusing hobbies, and playing video games. Only 10.5% of teenagers spend one hour or less on social media. Nearly 30% spend upwards of six hours. Entertainment, communication, and the relief of boredom are among the most common motivations given for this use. YouTube and TikTok, two of 7 platforms examined in this report, account for most of teens’ time on social media, and their use is highest among those motivated by boredom.

For more details on the Gallup survey data, click below:

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