26 Oct 2018

Social Media and Mental Health – the debate

young person with mobile phone

The Centre for Mental Health has joined the debate on social media and mental health in its Briefing number 53 which you can download here.

We summarise some of the briefing here.“Some studies have found evidence that young people can develop addictions to social media use. This may particularly be the case for introverted young people.”

Replacing face to face interaction

The paper suggests that more introverted young people, who find face to face relationships challenging, might choose to use social media to replace social interaction. It also suggests that when a person receives negative feedback in online communication, rather than making them ignore it, their reaction may be to read it even more to check what’s being said…an ‘urge’ or compulsive behaviour.

Social Media Addiction

A recent study quoted (O’Reilly 2018) also found sleep disruption and poor performance in school and during exams linked to social media habits.

While for most young people, they will be able to balance their social media use and other hobbies, ‘social media addiction’ is thought to affect around 5% of adolescents. One study, (Jenner, 2015) described the behaviours as potentially more addictive than both alcohol and cigarettes.

Studies find persistent and damaging comparisons with the lives of others is a driver for poor mental health. Idealised body image has been shown to have detrimental impacts on self-esteem.

Positive effects of social media on mental health

On the flip side however, used wisely, social media can have a positive effect on young people in two ways:

Firstly by creating and sustaining connections between people and thereby reducing loneliness; secondly by boosting people’s self-esteem by presenting a positive version of ourselves to the world and our networks. Download the briefing to read more. Or visit the Centre for Mental Health website.

If you have any concerns about the educational impact of mental health on your child please contact us.



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