Social media has a general negative stigma surrounding it and the hours we now spend perplexed by our electronic devices doesn’t help that impression. However, the most significant use is by younger generations who now use technology to converse with friends as well as complete school work. For many older generations this is seen as an unfamiliar and worrying action but the potential effects on mental health are a concern expressed by many.
Firstly, the pressure teenagers are under to maintain their social presence and constantly respond to messages results in anxieties and even sleep deprivation as studies show a fifth of secondary school pupils wake up in the night to check their social medias in fear of missing out. In addition to this, the National Citizen Service conducted a study which showed that girls were twice as likely as boys to suffer from stress, and instead of seeking advice and comfort from their parents, they would turn to social media (The Guardian, 2015). Although this could be seen as a worry for parents that their children are not opening up to them, there are many extremely helpful sites for children and adolescents to turn to when they have worries and don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents. An example of one of these sites in Childline. This is a free site which can be accessed online or by phone, 24 hours a day; seven days a week and promises complete confidentiality and support until a child’s stress or worry has been settled or they gain the confidence to get help. However, there is evidence that these resources do help children come to terms with their feelings with both boys and girls opening up. A teenage boy turned to Childline to confess “I see all my friends having a good time on social media and it gets me down, I feel like no one cares enough to invite me… My mood is getting worse and now I’m just upset all the time and can’t stop crying.” Childline’s aim is to tackle this and would’ve worked tirelessly to reassure and make the young boy feel included and thought of. (BBC News, 2018)
In addition to this Childline has also commented on the rise of loneliness reported on their site by teenagers. Reportedly, in 2017/18 they delivered almost 600 more sessions on loneliness than the previous year, as well as the fact that almost 20 percent of 16 to 24 year olds felt they were often or always lonely (BBC News, 2018) which raises the question ‘What is causing the rise?’. It is a concern that the excessive use of social media among both children and adults is creating a sense of isolation and disregard which is contributing to the statistics.