Clin Exp Pediatr.  2023 Jun;66(6):226-232. 10.3345/cep.2022.00843.

Role of social media use in onset of functional gastrointestinal disorders in children

  • 1Maternal and Child Department, Azienda ULSS 9 Scaligera, Verona, Italy
  • 2Department of Medical and Surgical Science, Pediatric Section, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
  • 3Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy


The use of social media has increased considerably in recent years. However, these tools are not always used consciously, and the stress that can result from their inappropriate use is often underestimated. Children, who tend to be heavy users of social media, are exposed to risks associated with their intensive use. Data on the consequences of social media on children’s health are extensive; however, few studies have examined the association between their use and functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). Our research showed that social media use is associated with adverse health outcomes such as stress, poor sleep quality, and gastrointestinal disorders in children and adolescents. FGIDs should be considered a group of biopsychosocial disorders involving gut dysfunction and psychological health. Stress may exacerbate the symptoms of these disorders and is associated with psychological comorbidities. Recent findings demonstrated a high prevalence of social media use and the incidence of psychological disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and decreased well-being in children with FGIDs. This review underlines that social media use is an emerging aspect of the psychosocial lives of children and adolescents; thus, it may be involved in FGID onset. Further studies in this field are needed to elucidate the link between social media and gastrointestinal health. Clinicians and politicians can play an important role in promoting the regulated and responsible use of digital platforms to protect the psychological health and preserve the well-being of children and adolescents.


Social media; Screen time; Gastrointestinal diseases; Child health
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