MediaCom’s 2019 Connected Kids research has revealed the extent to which young people are recognising the negative impact of social media on their lives
The annual report, which investigates the media habits and attitudes of kids and teenagers in the UK, highlighted young peoples’ addiction to social media, with 48% reporting they spend too much time on social media and more than half (52%) saying they feel the need to constantly check for updates.
But many teens are taking steps to curb their behaviour: 17% of teens have self-limited their screen time and 13% have cut down their use of social media apps and sites.
While British teens are making an effort to protect themselves from the negative impacts of social media, they still appreciate the positives it can bring. More than half (59%) say social media helps them to avoid missing out, while a further 47% say they are on social media to feel included.
Pauline Robson, managing partner at MediaCom UK, said: “The relationship that young people have with social media is complex. They love the fact that it can help connect them with their friends and family, but the pressure they feel to portray a certain lifestyle or online persona is enormous. It can mean they are more anxious about their online activity and more likely to look for ways to limit their social media use.”
The research also showed that teens are feeling the pressure when it comes to portraying their ‘best life’ on social media, and how their friends and peers will react to this; 32% worry about the number of likes they receive on a post and two-fifths (40%) often compare themselves to others on social media, while a further 36% are worried about receiving hurtful or negative online comments.
Robson concluded: “According to the NHS, mental health issues are rising among children and teens, and the evidence increasingly suggests that social media plays a role in this. Many teens may well be using social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube in positive ways, but we can’t ignore the damage that can be done online.
“Creating a healthy, vibrant social media environment for teens is crucial, and this responsibility lies at the feet of not only the social media companies themselves but any company who is engaging with young people through social channels. Failure to do this will only see more children switch off from social media and inevitably remove the platforms that they feel are not adding to their online experience.”