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Why are teen depression rates are rising faster for girls than boys?

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. You can read it here.

We're in the middle of a teen mental health crisis – and girls are at its epicenter.

Since 2010, depression, self-harm and suicide rates have increased among teen boys. But rates of major depression among teen girls in the U.S. increased even more – from 12% in 2011 to 20% in 2017. In 2015, three times as many 10- to 14-year-old girls were admitted to the emergency room after deliberately harming themselves than in 2010. Meanwhile, the suicide rate for adolescent girls has doubled since 2007.

Rates of depression started to tick up just as smartphones became popular, so digital media could be playing a role. The generation of teens born after 1995 – known as iGen or Gen Z – were the first to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. They're also the first group of teens to experience social media as an indispensable part of social life.


Of course, both boys and girls started using smartphones around the same time. So why are girls experiencing more mental health issues?

Mining three surveys of more than 200,000 teens in the U.S. and U.K., my colleagues and I were able to find some answers.

The screens we use

We found that teen boys and girls spend their digital media time in different ways: Boys spend more time gaming, while girls spend more time on their smartphones, texting and using social media.

Gaming involves different forms of communication. Gamers often interact with each other in real time, talking to each other via their headsets.

In contrast, social media often involves messaging via images or text. Yet even something as simple as a brief pause before receiving a response can elicit anxiety.

Then, of course, there's the way social media creates a hierarchy, with the number of likes and followers wielding social power. Images are curated, personas cultivated, texts crafted, deleted and rewritten. All of this can be stressful, and one study found that simply comparing yourself with others on social media made you more likely to be depressed.

And, unlike many gaming systems, smartphones are portable. They can interfere with face-to-face social interaction or be brought into bed, two actions that have been found to undermine mental health and sleep.

Are girls more susceptible than boys?

It's not just that girls and boys spend their digital media time on different activities. It may also be that social media use has a stronger effect on girls than boys.

Previous research revealed that teens who spend more time on digital media are more likely to be depressedand unhappy. In our new paper, we found that this link was stronger for girls than for boys.

Both girls and boys experience an increase in unhappiness the more time they spend on their devices. But for girls, that increase is larger.

Only 15% of girls who spent about 30 minutes a day on social media were unhappy, but 26% of girls who spent six hours a day or more on social media reported being unhappy. For boys, the difference in unhappiness was less noticeable: 11% of those who spent 30 minutes a day on social media said they were unhappy, which ticked up to 18% for those who spent six-plus hours per day doing the same.

Why might girls be more prone to unhappiness when using social media?

Popularity and positive social interactions tend to have a more pronounced effect on teen girls' happiness than boys' happiness. Social media can be both a cold arbiter of popularity and a platform for bullying, shaming and disputes.

In addition, girls continue to face more pressure about their appearance, which could be exacerbated by social media. For these reasons and more, social media is a more fraught experience for girls than for boys.

From this data on digital media use and unhappiness, we can't tell which causes which, although several experimentssuggest that digital media use does cause unhappiness.

If so, digital media use – especially social media – might have a more negative effect on girls' mental health than on boys'.

Looking ahead

What can we do?

First, parents can help children and teens postpone their entry into social media.

It's actually the law that children can't have a social media account in their own name until they are 13. This law is rarely enforced, but parents can insist that their children stay off social media until they are 13.

Among older teens, the situation is more complex, because social media use is so pervasive.

Still, groups of friends can talk about these challenges. Many are probably aware, on some level, that social media can make them feel anxious or sad. They might agree to call each other more, take breaks or let others know that they're not always going to respond instantly – and that this doesn't mean they are angry or upset.

We're learning more about the ways social media has been designed to be addictive, with companies making more money the more time users spend on their platforms.

That profit may be at the expense of teen mental health – especially that of girls.

Jean Twenge is Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University



partner boost

Pacifico and Quiksilver have teamed up to provide a sustainable merch collection and clean beaches

Shared values of sustainability and adventure come together in a beautiful way

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

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At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

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Image courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Nenad Bach, founder of Ping Pong Parkinson's.

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Nenad Bach, a Croatian American recording artist, and peace activist has led an impressive life propelled by his inspiring optimism. As a musician, he’s performed alongside Bono and Luciano Pavarotti and took the stage at Woodstock ‘94. He’s recorded with legendary artists such as Garth Hudson and Rick Danko from The Band and The Grateful Dead’s Vince Welnick.

As an activist, he was highlighted by the United Nations for his World Peace in One Hour campaign.

But in 2010 his life came to a temporary halt after being diagnosed with Parkinson's, a nervous system disorder affecting movement. According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, it’s a progressive disease that slowly worsens over time.

Over a million people in the U.S. and 6 million worldwide are affected by the disease.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson's, Bach was invited by a friend to play ping pong. The next day he couldn’t believe how much better he felt. His cognitive abilities improved, his tremors were less intense, it was easier for him to walk and talk and he felt a greater “desire to live,” he told Upworthy.

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Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

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