Research shows that the increasing popularity of social media has many positive and negative effects for children and young people.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, large numbers of children and young people are using the Internet to access social networking sites to communicate with one other and share feeling and voice opinions (Richards, Caldwell and Go, 2015). Social media is reported to allow young people to momentarily suppress their problems and research identifies that social networks help introverted young people become more sociable and empathetic.
However, social media can also have negative mental health effects including ‘Facebook depression’ and cyber bullying.
‘Cyberbullying is deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing or hostile information about another person. It is the most common online risk for all young people and is a peer-to-peer risk’ (Richards, 2015).
The effects of cyberbullying are serious including cases of depression, isolation, anxiety that can even lead to suicide (Richards, Caldwell and Go, 2015). The main appeal of cyber bullying is the anonymity of the attack and the feeling of power associated. After conducting a survey about communication and social media, the results provide some insight into the way mental health is being affected.
In relation to Facebook Depression, psychology professor Rosen cites that:
‘Daily overuse of various forms of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers, which in turn, makes them more prone to psychological disorders like anxiety, depression and others’.
After conducting a survey about communication and social media, the results provide some insight into the way mental health is affected. Here is a list of some stats:
- 92% of people have moderate-high communication apprehension
- People would rather text than any other form of communication
- Only 21% of people believe that social media allows them to be heard
- 70% of people voted that they want more authentic social interaction and relationships
- 40% of people voted that social media makes them feel isolated and lonely, 30% voted sometimes
- 60% of people spend more than three hours on social media and 11% spend more than seven hours
- 40% of people also voted that they experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Based on these statistics and research findings, social media poses many benefits to our day to day life but also many threats to our mental health.
Click on the link below to participate in the survey:
By Elise Hodgson
Gabriel, F. (2014). Sexting, Selfies and Self-Harm: Young People, Social Media and the Performance of Self-Development. Media International Australia, 151(1), pp.104-112.
Richards, D., Caldwell, P. and Go, H. (2015). Impact of social media on the health of children and young people. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 51(12), pp.1152-1157
Sternbergclinic.com.au. (2017). Social Media and its Impact on Mental Health – Sternberg Clinic. [online] Available at: http://www.sternbergclinic.com.au/social-media-and-its-impact-on-mental-health/ [Accessed 10 Aug. 2017].