A recent study suggests that teens who spend even one hour per day on social media are more likely to be dissatisfied with life.
The paper, published by the Institute of Labor Economics, a German economic research institute, uses data from about 4,000 British individuals between the ages of ten and fifteen years old. The teens were asked about their social media usage and their level of satisfaction with five different aspects of their lives (frienships, family, school attended, academic performance, appearance) and life overall.
The teens who spent more time chatting on social networks were more likely to be unhappy with each aspect of life measured except for their friendships. Furthermore, spending as little as one hour per day on social media reduced the teens’ probability of being happy with life overall by 14%. For context, this effect is three times larger than that of being in a single parent household and also larger than the effect of playing truant from school, two other variables also examined by the study.
The results also varied significantly by gender. The girls surveyed were more negatively impacted than the boys; in particular, more time on social media hurt girls’ satisfaction with their appearance and with their academic performance.
To read the study in full, click here!
This study indicates even a little social media can impact a teen’s state of mind. Girls, in particular, are vulnerable to the shiny veneer of filtered and heavily edited social media profiles.
What can parents do? Perhaps one of the smartest decisions a parent can make is to require tweens to wait to join social media until at least age thirteen. Social media sites want participants to be thirteen or older to comply with privacy laws, and waiting until the teenage years will allow more time for children to mature, build self-esteem, and develop discernment to see through the veneer of filtered photos and edited posts. Parents should also aid in the development of this discernment and maturity by frequently talking with their children about healthy internet habits, including critical media viewing. When teens do join social media, parents should be a part of their social media circle, stay up to date on teens’ posts, and regularly co-view social media and discuss content.
To read more social media tips for parents and families, click here!
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