89% of social media users believe it harms their mental health, according to a study by The Cybersmile Foundation.
The organization recently unveiled Digital Wellbeing 2022 – its second two-year study conducted by the charity to find out about the impact that the use of social media has on users aged 16 to 24.
The Digital Wellbeing 2022 study asked 1,000 participants aged 16 to 24 across the UK a series of questions about how their use of social media affects them. Important topics such as mental health, body image, social comparisons, consumption of negative news, addiction to social networks and many others were explored as part of the research project.
Holly H, the official ambassador of the cyber smile, said: “I feel so happy to be able to be my own and express how I feel and who I am on social media. It’s amazing to see so many different people from all over the world, connect with them and share experiences. Most of the time it’s an amazing experience, but from time to time it can get tough online. It is important to get extra help if you ever find yourself in trouble because your mental health and well-being are extremely important. Talk to your friends or family about how you feel or turn to the amazing Cybersmile team for help. ”
The study was undertaken to better understand Generation Z’s relationship with social media and how it affects the way they feel about their bodies, lives and personal well-being. Findings from Digital Wellbeing 2022 will be used to ensure that Cybersmile continues to provide the most useful and effective advice, education and support services possible.
Dan Raisbeck, co-founder of The Cybersmile Foundation, said: “Our Digital Welfare Report 2022 offers significant new insights into how the use of social media affects the daily lives of an entire generation. With evolving technology and increased platform retention times – Generation Z users are affected more than anything we’ve discovered before. These findings offer Cybersmile valuable insight into the digital well-being of young people aged 16 to 24 in the UK and will play a key role in helping us tailor our support resources, develop new educational materials and create effective awareness-raising campaigns. ”
Cybersmile’s commitment to learning more about the relationship between Generation Z and social media was backed by advisory board member Dr Barbara Mariposa, a doctor with experience in psychiatry and public health, whose books include The Mindfulness Playbook, The Kindness Habit and Leading with Presence.
Dr Barbara Mariposa, a member of the Cybersmile Wellness & Equity Advisory Board, said: “The findings of Digital Welfare 2022 are sharp. They emphasize the vital importance of education from an early age in the safe use of social media with respect. Edited versions of reality on social media offer perfect bodies and perfect worlds, which nearly nine out of 10 study participants said have a negative impact on how they feel about themselves, their bodies and their lives. Young people are rightly concerned about addiction and increased anxiety, the amount of time taken to learn, and the detrimental impact of this time on the basics of good self-care, such as exercise and diet. Cybersmile’s Digital Wellbeing 2022 report highlights the real damage that unbalanced use of social media platforms can do. ”
The study was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Cybersmile between 16 and 24 May across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Regional data offer interesting insights and comparisons for major cities across the UK including Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Sheffield and Southampton.
The amazing Arabella, Generation Z influencer, said: “Sometimes it can be difficult for us to understand the difference between the real and digital worlds because we can often be engrossed in pixelated reality. The way we take care of our own well-being, learn how to use the Internet productively and communicate through it is crucial. Education should be introduced at an early age in order to encourage balance and knowledge, as well as watch the red flags and know what to do! I encourage my companions to be aware of their personal well-being when using social media, and for my young and parental companions to do so through family activities that can be done in a fun and safe way – encouraging meaningful social and digital interactions while building trust. Your digital well-being is very important. ”
Key findings from Digital Wellbeing 2022 include:
46% of respondents stated that social media forces them to permanently change a body part through surgery.
87% of respondents stated that the content on social networks makes them under pressure to be perfect.
85% of respondents stated that social networks negatively affect their feelings towards their own body.
89% of respondents stated that social networks negatively affect their mental health.
77% of respondents stated that social networks negatively affect their physical health.
89% of respondents stated that they feel dissatisfied with their life when they compare it with others on social networks.
86% of respondents stated that their use of social media causes anxiety.
32% of respondents said they feel addicted to bad news online.
33% of respondents stated that they do not feel safe to share their opinions and views online.
44% of respondents said they were concerned about their addiction to social media.
52% of respondents said they feel better when they spend less time on social media.
51% of respondents stated that their sleep is negatively affected by the amount of time they spend online.
32% of respondents stated that their diet is negatively affected by the amount of time they spend online.
32% of respondents stated that their exercise is negatively affected by the amount of time they spend online.
40% of respondents stated that their study is negatively affected by the amount of time they spend online.
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