Social media is a digital tool that allows people to easily stay connected and produce content through applications for different mobile devices and operating systems . Nowadays, people use social media more commonly than expected. The previous study has shown that excessive and pathological use of social media leads to personal, social, vocational, and educational problems for individuals. However, due to the conceptual confusion surrounding the classification of problematic internet use, there is no consensus among researchers regarding the identification of problematic social networking or internet addiction . It has been noted that the increase in mental distress and deterioration of mental health conditions of adolescents has paralleled with the rapid rise in the use of cell phones and social media by adolescents. Evidence of a variety of cross-sectional, longitudinal, and empirical studies have shown the link between cell phone and social media use and the increase in mental distress and self-injurious behavior among youth. A cross-sectional study done among undergraduate students of University in the Northeastern United States reported negative effects increased by the excessive use of social media, which may have harmful effects on personal and social lives of the users , and another study also disclosed that the students of Southwestern University were found feeling depressed after spending an extensive amount of time on social media .
In Nepal, the internet penetration rate is just about 15 percent and very few students use the internet for educational purposes so it is very likely that students, guardians, and possibly teachers view the internet as a medium of entertainment and not an educational resource . In this context, the current study aims to assess the psychological effects of social media among adolescent students (10–19 yrs) of Grade 9 and 10 in schools of Kathmandu city in Nepal. Using social networking sites is a particularly popular activity to connect with social media via mobile technologies. Current study finding shows that 61.6 percent of the adolescents had their phones and a large proportion (88.1%) of the respondents had internet facilities in their houses. Besides, the average time spent on social media was 2.44 hours in a day and a large proportion (54.4%) of the respondents spent 1 to 5 hours in social media. Previous studies have reported variations in time spent on social media. A cross-sectional study done among school adolescents in Hungary reported 3.3 hours average time spent on social media and 38.6 percent of the respondents spent more than 3 hours on social media . Another study was done in China among 18–40 years aged group disclosed that 23 percent of the participants spent three hours or more on social media .
In the past, studies were also done to assess problems and mobile phone use has proliferated those results and has suggested that some individuals may develop addiction-related problems as a consequence of their mobile phone use . Social media addiction is also considered a kind of internet addiction . People spending too much time on social media can cause the effects like virtual tolerance, virtual communication, and virtual problem and the behaviors that force the person into these actions can be explained as a social media addiction. In this context, the results of the current study also revealed that out of 318 adolescence respondents, 45.9 percent of them were addicted to social media. Based on SMAS-SF, the current study revealed virtual tolerance (15.7%), virtual communication (33%), virtual problem (28.5%), and virtual information (22.8%) respectively. In a study done in Hungary, social media addiction was assessed based on Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS). The BSMAS scale has categorized the level of social media addiction into three classes. The first class named ‘no-risk’, second class ‘low risk’ and third-class 'at risk'. This BSMAS based result showed that 78.3 percent of social media users were in ‘no risk’, the second class of social media users represented ‘low risk’ of problematic use (17.2% and 15.5% respectively) and the third class represented the population of ‘at-risk’ problematic social media users were 4.5 percent, and 4.1 percent, respectively .
We observed that previous research findings also suggest younger generations may be more at risk in developing addictive symptoms as a consequence of their social media use-whilst perceptions of social media addiction appear to differ across generations . Our current study concluded that 31.8 percent of the adolescents were depressed and it is surprising that 64.4 percent of them had social media addiction. Besides, the significant association is observed between adolescents with their cell phone and social media addiction (p = 0.037); social media addiction and depression (p = 0.000). In this context, previous studies have also reported that mobile phone use is a condition, with dependent use being one possible consequence, like addictive behavior to social media [24, 27]. A study on a sample of over 23,000 Norwegians also supported this supposition by specifically indicating that social networking is often engaged in via phones, which may contribute to addiction to social media . Another cross-sectional study focused on higher secondary students in Chennai of India has also concluded that cell phone usage is so strongly integrated into young people's behavior that it was showing resulting in symptoms of behavioral addiction . We also noted that the previous studies show differences in prevalence rates of negative psychological effects of social media use was mainly due to various methodological issues such as sampling techniques and sample size, targeting mainly college students and small sample sizes [30–33]. For instance, the prevalence of problematic social media users among Nigerian University undergraduates was 1.6 percent  and in Jordan, 38.5 percent of ordinary users were found addicted to Facebook . Also, a cross-sectional study done among adult group reported a significant positive correlation between depression symptoms and social media use , positive correlation between social media addiction and depression has also been noted among University students in Afghanistan . Furthermore, a study was done in the Department of Psychology, University of Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan declared a negative relationship between self-esteem and high levels of social media use . We noted that the results of previous studies were corresponding to the prevalence rates of the general addictive internet use among different age groups rather than in adolescents that range between 1 percent  to 18.7 percent . Previous review study has also pointed out that many studies do not clarify the differences between internet addiction and gambling and making comparisons across study limitation, study design and sampling techniques . While our current study finding is based on probability sampling techniques and is conducted among adolescent students (10–19 yrs) of City area that are at higher risk of negative psychological effects of social media use. Thus, the results of this study hold important implications for adolescents of schools and colleges who are addicted and depressed and might also be addicted to social media.
We conducted this non-interventional cross-sectional school-based study in schools of Kathmandu City in Nepal and findings are based on SMAS-SF and SMFQ. Percent comparisons are done for descriptive analysis and Chi-square test has been used to measure the association between the variables. Therefore, causality cannot be established regarding the risk factors through this study design. Future research might apply to different study design (i.e., interventional, longitudinal designs) to identify the contributing factors of the psychological effects among social media using adolescents and future interventions might also target the reduction of social media use among those adolescents who are at risk of addiction and depression. Besides, it should be noted that when completing the Social Media Addiction Scale and Short Mood & Feelings Questionnaire, the research participants may have had a different conception of social media use than intended by the developers of the Social Media Addiction Scale and Short Mood & Feelings Questionnaire.