How does the use of social media affect young people?
In today's world, the importance of social media continues to grow and it has long been feared that young people in particular will be negatively influenced by the use of social media. However, researchers have now found that the effects of using social media on the life satisfaction of adolescents are only limited and are likely to be extremely small.
A recent study by the internationally highly recognized University of Oxford found that the use of social media has only a minimal impact on the life satisfaction of young people. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America" (PNAS).
These factors have a greater impact on well-being
It has been widely believed that social media has a huge impact on young people. Family life, friends and school life have a far greater impact on well-being, the researchers say. Companies should publish more data on how exactly people use social media to learn more about the effects of technology on the lives of young people, the researchers say.
Previous studies have often produced conflicting results
The aim of the current study was to find out whether adolescents who use social media more frequently than average have a lower life satisfaction or whether adolescents with less life satisfaction use more social media. Previous research on the relationship between the use of social media and children's mental health has often produced conflicting results. This is often based on limited evidence, which does not provide the complete picture, explain the authors of the study.
Girls spent more time on social media
The current study concluded that most of the links between life satisfaction and social media use are trivial and account for less than one percent of a teenager's well-being. The study authors report that 99.75 percent of a person's life satisfaction has nothing to do with the use of social media. The survey, which took place between 2009 and 2017, asked thousands of ten to 15 year olds how long they used social media on a normal school day. In addition, it was assessed how satisfied they were with the different aspects of life. The results show that girls spent more time using social media, but the impact was minimal for both girls and boys. The researchers explain that less than half of the effects found are statistically significant.
Working with social media companies?
Parents shouldn't worry about the time of using social media, the authors say. The results show no cause for concern. The researchers further explained that it is now important to identify young people who are at greater risk from certain effects of social media. In addition, other factors need to be found that affect their well-being. Meetings with social media companies are planned to discuss how collaboration can take place and learn more about exactly how people use apps, not just the time they spend using them.
More research is needed
"Industry needs to publish usage data and support independent research," study author Amy Orben of the University of Oxford said in a press release. Such access is the key to understanding the many roles social media plays in young people's lives. In the future, other important factors should also be taken into account, such as the influence of smartphones and computers on the time spent with other important activities such as sleep, exercise and time with family or friends.
Sleep is extremely important for children
Families should adhere to guidelines published earlier this year and avoid, for example, spending time in front of the screen of smartphones or similar devices an hour before going to bed because children are dependent on a good night's rest not only because of their mental health, advise the researchers. (as)