More than a third of S4 girls have “very high” emotional problems, which could be linked to use of social media, a new report from the Scottish Government has found.

Surveys of secondary school pupils found that overall, 17 per cent of youngsters in S1 to S4 had such issues.

That rose to 34 per cent for girls in S4 – more than three times the 11 per cent of boys in this age group who report such problems.

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The report found seven per cent of boys and 14 per cent of girls in S1 were classed as having very high emotional problems.

In S2, this was the case for seven per cent of boys and 22 per cent of girls, and in S3 it was the case for eight per cent of boys and 29 per cent of girls.

The research, which was based on surveys from more than 32,000 secondary pupils across five different council areas, also found just 6% of girls in S4 are likely to have high positive mental well-being, compared to 14% for boys.

According to the report, girls’ tendency to “compare themselves more to others they see on social media” could be the reason for this.

It states: “It is possible that the widening inequality in emotional well-being is partly influenced by differences in how adolescent boys and girls tend to engage with social media.

“For example, girls tend to prefer photo-based platforms and compare themselves more to others they see on social media.”

According to the research, which was carried out between 2015 and 2017, a third of secondary pupils felt “strained by school work”, while just over a quarter said they would not speak to a family member if there was something they were worried about.

Two-fifths reported suffering from bullying, with the same number saying they had experienced prejudice in some form.

More than a fifth of the almost 25,000 primary school pupils who were questioned reported having “lower than average mood”.

Among P5 pupils, 26 per cent of boys and 24 per cent of girls suffered from this, although the proportion fell to 19 per cent for both sexes in P7.

Overall, two-fifths of primary children of both sexes were classed as having a higher than average life satisfaction.

More than a third of primary pupils reported worrying about schoolwork, while 15 per cent said they had few or no friends.

A quarter reported having a “poor quality” relationship with their parents.

These are some of the “numerous factors” from “different domains” that can impact on children and young people’s mental health and well-being, according to the report.

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It explains: “School experiences and interactions with family members and peers are consistently important for good mental health and well-being.

“Good general health and physical activity are also key.

“In addition, perceptions of the local area are linked to certain mental health outcomes but less strongly than other factors.”

Youngsters who suffer from “clusters of multiple risk factors are especially vulnerable to mental health problems”, it added.