A report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and The Prince’s Trust has found that social media negatively affects teenagers mental health. The report found that the largest effect came in those of teenage age.
This is certainly worrying news for parents, teenagers and social media companies alike. With the pressures of misinformation currently drawing a lot of the focus of social media platforms, the wellbeing of their customers could not be more important.
Another major issue is the amount all of us are currently spending online due to the pandemic. With a lot of use locked inside, we have turned to social media more for our contact. WhatsApp reported a new record in voice and video calls during the new year’s period as a result.
As reported by the BBC it appears that younger children are less affected by this trend but it is still a worrying one. The question will now turn as to what mitigating effects can be implemented to stem this trend.
Report finds social media has a negative effect on mental health
There were a number of interesting statistics and findings in the report. Due to its length, we have synthesized the most important ones.
It found that one in three girls are unhappy with their personal appearance by the age of 14. This is an increase of one in seven during primary school.
The report also finds that the proportion of young people suffering from probable mental health disease has increased. The estimate now sits at one in six up from one in nine in 2017.
The report also found a correlation with those in lower sets in secondary school and mental health. The report found that boys in the lowest set in primary school had lower self-esteem than their peers come their teenage years.
Dr Amy Orben, a research fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge believes the social media is a driver in these worrying statistics. She said, “those who feel worse may turn to social media for solace or community”.
However, the study also presented family income, exercise and poor maternal health as factors that contributed to poor mental health. Exercise was seen as a driver for positive mental health in both genders.
The report made a number of recommendations that included 650m package to schools for wellbeing funding after the pandemic. It also called for more mental health teaching in the future.
Overall, this is a worrying report but hopefully, it will spark a conversation that turns into improvements. Clearly, social media has its benefits but also its dangers which need to be better addressed.