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Is Social Media Threatening Teens’ Mental Health and Well-being?

04.07.2023 02:48 AM
Is Social Media Threatening Teens’ Mental Health and Well-being?
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Is Social Media Threatening Teens’ Mental Health and Well-being?

In today's world, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. Consequently, numerous studies are focusing on its impact on our overall well-being, especially our mental health.

A recent study revealed that young individuals who primarily consume other users' content on social networking sites are more prone to experiencing anxiety, depression, and stress compared to active users who actively share their own content.

To gain insights into the relationship between social media interactions and feelings of loneliness and psychological distress, researchers surveyed 288 individuals aged 18 to 34. Dr. Constantina Panurgia, Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at Bournemouth University (BU), highlighted the significance of social media for young people, given that they are identified as the group experiencing the highest levels of loneliness according to the Office for National Statistics.

While previous studies tended to focus on specific platforms or the amount of time spent online, this study aimed to delve deeper and examine the various ways individuals engage with social media, regardless of the platforms they use.

The study, published in the Journal of Behavior and Information Technology, categorized social media use into three types: passive (users who exclusively browse content posted by others), active antisocial (users who share their own content but do not interact directly with others), and active social (users who post personal content and engage with other users).

The results demonstrated that passive use of social media was associated with heightened levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Conversely, creating and sharing content without direct interaction (active and non-social) had a positive impact on stress levels.

Zoe Taylor, the lead researcher at Boston University, emphasized the crucial role of social media interactions in psychological well-being. Passive users tend to experience more profound feelings of loneliness, which can subsequently lead to increased psychological stress.

Dr. Panurgia added that negative usage of social media fails to provide opportunities for connection and self-expression, which are known to foster social bonding and support. Consequently, users may feel isolated and excluded, intensifying their feelings of loneliness and consequently elevating their levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

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