How many hours per day does your daughter spend on Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat?
A new study by BioMed Central has revealed that the use of social media impacts the well-being of girls much more than boys, with the well-being of those aged ten and over deteriorating in particular.
The study uses data gathered from youth questionnaires carried out over ten to fifteen years in the UK. Social media interaction is determined by two main questions: “Do you belong to a social website such as Bebo, Facebook or MySpace?” and “How many hours do you spend chatting or interacting with friends through a social website like that on a normal school day?” Well-being, on the other hand, is measured in relation to happiness concerning six domains of life: friends, family, appearance, school, school work and life as a whole.
We’ve summarised the confronting results for you below:
- Black African/Caribbean adolescents have better well-being at age 10 compared to White British adolescents
- Both Asian males and females show a greater increase in happiness with age when compared to their White British counterparts
- Overall, social media interaction increases with age and decreases happiness with age for both males and females
- For females in particular, well-being deteriorates with greater use of social media at age 10 and this trend is sustained throughout their teenage years
The study discusses possible reasons to explain the findings above:
Asian and Black African/Caribbean adolescents chat less on social media compared to their White British counterparts.
Adolescents from households with lower education or income levels tend to interact more on social media.
Males prefer to game instead of interacting on social media.
These results are striking, especially in their similarity to the social media environment in Australia.
Reasons for this link between social media and wellbeing is also examined: the paper claims that use of social media naturally produces ‘risk factors’ such as social isolation, low self-esteem, increased obesity and decreased physical exercise.
Perhaps the greatest consequence can be summarised using the slang term FOMO: fear of missing out.
The paper states, “While social media allows for interaction between people, it is still a sedentary activity that can be done in a solitary environment. Conversely, social media are often used in group settings. Whether done in isolation or with friends, there may be risks to using social media, which could lead to poorer physical and mental health in adulthood.”
So next time you see your daughter mindlessly scrolling through her phone, take a second look at her and wonder, “Are you feeling okay? Are you happy? Do I need to take that phone away from you?”