Social media 'adversely affecting' teenage mental health, study says

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A new U.K. study shows that teenagers' mental health is deteriorating, and blames the problem on too much social media and too little exercise.

Social media apps on an iPhone
Social media apps on an iPhone


Apple's Tim Cook has previously said he doesn't want his nephew using social media, and now a study from The Prince's Trust has attempted to quantify the potential problems. Along with the UK's Education Policy Institute, and supermarket chain Tesco, the report studied mental health, and self-esteem issues in young people aged 11, 14, and 17.

The study, "Young people's mental and emotional health," is concerned with a range of issues affecting teenagers, including the coronavirus pandemic. However, according to the full research paper, there is a marked drop in "median wellbeing scores" as teenagers become active on social media.

"We find a significant relationship between heavy social media use at age 14 and worse self-esteem and higher psychological distress at age 17," says the report. "[However we] do not find a similar relationship between heavy social media use and wellbeing."

Alongside issues such as the pandemic, lack of exercise, and arguing with parents, the report examines how social media affects both boys and girls. For instance, it says that one in three girls are unhappy with their appearance by age 14, compared to one in seven at the end of primary (grade) school, around age 11.

There is also a marked difference between boys and girls.

"Heavy social media use is associated with worse scores on all outcomes in girls [of] age 14 and 17," continues the report. "But only worse wellbeing for boys at age 14."

"While girls tended to focus on the negative impact on body image," it says. "Boys felt that the images they saw on social media platforms could be aspirational.

The Prince's Trust is recommending a series of measures to the UK government about educating young people on these topics.

While unrelated to this report, Tim Cook's concerns about similar issues have resulted in Apple taking certain steps to help. "I don't have a kid," he said in 2018, "but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on. There are some things that I won't allow; I don't want them on a social network."

Apple subsequently introduced a School Time version of Do Not Disturb, with the launch of the Apple Watch SE. It also has Screen Time, and most recently brought out Apple Fitness+.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    No shit, Sherlock. When I was a teenager it was watching too much TV that was going to ruin me.
    razorpitSpamSandwichbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 2 of 10
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    Any correlation to too much lockdown in that study?
    SpamSandwichbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 3 of 10
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,927member
    Run down the shop and buy a paper every day.  (Lockdown permitting)

    I’m pretty sure the source of most social angst is from digital media.  We’re all familiar with how getting too much of what we crave affects our body but our mental obesity has gone unnoticed for too long. People need to do real things again.
    sdw2001watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member
    mcdave said:
    Run down the shop and buy a paper every day.  (Lockdown permitting)

    I’m pretty sure the source of most social angst is from digital media.  We’re all familiar with how getting too much of what we crave affects our body but our mental obesity has gone unnoticed for too long. People need to do real things again.
    I am almost completely off social media.  Even as an adult, it's great.  I know what it was doing to my adult brain.  For teenagers it's much, much worse.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    sdw2001 said:
    mcdave said:
    Run down the shop and buy a paper every day.  (Lockdown permitting)

    I’m pretty sure the source of most social angst is from digital media.  We’re all familiar with how getting too much of what we crave affects our body but our mental obesity has gone unnoticed for too long. People need to do real things again.
    I am almost completely off social media.  Even as an adult, it's great.  I know what it was doing to my adult brain.  For teenagers it's much, much worse.  
    I was mocked by many when I refused to jump on the "social" media bandwagon.  My view was that there was essentially no positive and a whole bunch of negative to it.  Years later I still have no association with it, neither does my wife, nor do our kids.  We are all better off for it!

    It is truly saddening to see articles like this.  People need to use better judgement when making choices, that's about all there is to it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    razorpit said:
    Any correlation to too much lockdown in that study?
    What could THAT possibly have to do with anything?  /s
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 7 of 10
    I'm getting a 404 error from the link below:

    full research paper
  • Reply 9 of 10
    sdw2001 said:
    mcdave said:
    Run down the shop and buy a paper every day.  (Lockdown permitting)

    I’m pretty sure the source of most social angst is from digital media.  We’re all familiar with how getting too much of what we crave affects our body but our mental obesity has gone unnoticed for too long. People need to do real things again.
    I am almost completely off social media.  Even as an adult, it's great.  I know what it was doing to my adult brain.  For teenagers it's much, much worse.  
    I was mocked by many when I refused to jump on the "social" media bandwagon.  My view was that there was essentially no positive and a whole bunch of negative to it.  Years later I still have no association with it, neither does my wife, nor do our kids.  We are all better off for it!

    It is truly saddening to see articles like this.  People need to use better judgement when making choices, that's about all there is to it.
    In my personal experience, I disagree with the bolded part - that there is NO positive with FB. I am able to get in touch with some of my old time friends only because of FB. And some of the useful information gets posted by people in my friend's list as well. I spend about 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day in FB through browser. I am aware of the bad things about FB, wanted to completely get out of FB. But I am finding it difficult to do that, only because there are few useful things going on as well and I wouldn't be able to get those useful things done otherwise.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    sdw2001 said:
    mcdave said:
    Run down the shop and buy a paper every day.  (Lockdown permitting)

    I’m pretty sure the source of most social angst is from digital media.  We’re all familiar with how getting too much of what we crave affects our body but our mental obesity has gone unnoticed for too long. People need to do real things again.
    I am almost completely off social media.  Even as an adult, it's great.  I know what it was doing to my adult brain.  For teenagers it's much, much worse.  
    I was mocked by many when I refused to jump on the "social" media bandwagon.  My view was that there was essentially no positive and a whole bunch of negative to it.  Years later I still have no association with it, neither does my wife, nor do our kids.  We are all better off for it!

    It is truly saddening to see articles like this.  People need to use better judgement when making choices, that's about all there is to it.
    In my personal experience, I disagree with the bolded part - that there is NO positive with FB. I am able to get in touch with some of my old time friends only because of FB. And some of the useful information gets posted by people in my friend's list as well. I spend about 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day in FB through browser. I am aware of the bad things about FB, wanted to completely get out of FB. But I am finding it difficult to do that, only because there are few useful things going on as well and I wouldn't be able to get those useful things done otherwise.
    I did not say there were NO positive aspects I said ESSENTIALLY no positive.  It is my belief that if you add up (in an unbiased manner) all the genuinely positive aspects to "social" media and compare that to all the negative aspects you will find the negatives outweigh the positives by a huge margin.  You almost said as much yourself in your bolded part.  Further, you single out facebook, while I look at "social media" as a whole.  Just look at the sheer amount of lies, misinformation, vitriol, spite and outright hatred spewed about...  and now we get the pleasure of one-sided censorship to boot.  You indicate you are only able to get in touch with old time friends because of "social" media...  Makes one wonder how humans communicated before the advent of these platforms.

    I stand by my statement and have zero regrets about steering clear of this atrocity which has been heaped upon society.
    watto_cobra
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