Nearly half of young people have experienced cyber bullying

Nearly half of young people aged 11-25 years have experienced threatening, intimidating or nasty messages via social media, email or texts, according to a survey by Young Minds

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Young Minds and The Children’s Society, have carried out a survey of 1,000 children and young people aged 11-25 to hear about their views and experiences of bullying online.

More than a third of young people (37%) said they had experienced online bullying in their lifetime versus 47% of those who had reported offline bullying experiences.

An overwhelming majority of young people surveyed (83%) said that social media companies should do more to tackle cyberbullying on social media.

More than half (59%) of young people had their first social media account at the age of 12, despite guidelines for social media sites stating that you must be 13 years old to have an account.

Nearly half (45%) said they spent more than three hours per day on social media.

The Young Minds inquiry aims to look at what social media companies are doing to tackle such behaviour on their platforms, and whether the industry is going far enough to protect children and young people on their sites.

More detail: An Inquiry into the Impact of Cyberbullying on Social Media on Children and Young People’s Mental Health

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Social media abuse affects almost half of girls in UK

Nearly half (48%) of girls aged 11-18 in the UK and two-fifths of boys have experienced some form of harassment or abuse on social media | OnMedica

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Image source: Plan

The findings, based on a survey commissioned by girls’ rights charity Plan International UK, have prompted fears that young people, and girls in particular, are being forced to withdraw from social media due to fear of criticism, harassment or abuse. The charity today launches the #girlsbelonghere campaign to tackle the problem.

The survey revealed boys are significantly less likely than girls to experience abuse, with 40% reporting a negative experience. They are also less likely (59%) to take evasive actions to avoid being criticised such as refraining from posting on social media or holding back their opinions.

For the survey, research agency Opinium contacted 1,002 young people aged 11-18. Some 235 of the 486 girls and 202 of the 510 boys who responded reported online abuse.

Social media pressure is linked to cosmetic procedure boom

Young people are turning to cosmetic procedures such as botox and dermal fillers as a result of social media pressure, according to a report | BBC News

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Image source: Nuffield Bioethics

A study by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics says government must protect people from an unregulated industry. The report also condemns makeover apps and online plastic surgery games aimed at children as young as nine. The authors fear such apps are contributing to growing anxieties around body image. Much of the cosmetic procedures industry is unregulated so reliable data on its size is hard to come by. In 2015 one market research company estimated the UK market could be worth as much as £3.6bn. But there is little doubt it has grown significantly over the past decade.

The report identifies several factors that are encouraging young people in particular to focus on body image. These include increasing levels of anxiety around appearance, the rise of social media where photos can receive positive or negative ratings and the popularity of celebrity culture, complete with airbrushed images and apparently perfect lifestyles.

Social Media and Substance Use: What Should We Be Recommending to Teens and Their Parents?

With social media increasingly integrated into the lives of today’s teenagers, there are two urgent needs: for further research on online exposure to substance use and for clear recommendations to mental health practitioners, adolescents, and parents about the need to assess and monitor teens’ online exposure to substance use | Journal of Adolescent Health

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Image source: Roey Ahram – Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Teens and Social Media

In 2015, 92% of teens aged 13 to 17 years reported going online daily, 24% were online “almost constantly,” and 71% used more than one social networking sit. Social media use is associated with mental health problems including depression, sleep disturbance, and eating concerns among young people. Social media perpetuates social comparison in a world where everything is curated, which is particularly problematic for teens who may be more prone to depressive cognitions in the face of such social comparison.

Social Media and Substance Use

Substance use is rampant and often glorified by celebrities and others on social media. There have been reports of social media being used as a strategy for selling drugs, with hashtags facilitating the process of pairing buyers with sellers. Tobacco, electronic cigarette, and alcohol industries have widely integrated social media platforms into marketing strategies that are fully accessible to teens. In this way social media has opened up doors for these industries to market to youth even when direct marketing to minors is against the law or supposed to be internally regulated. The burgeoning cannabis industry is opening up even more opportunities for teens to have exposure to advertising through social media. Exposure to substance use imagery is associated with subsequent onset in use, which is why drinking alcohol and using drugs in movies warrants an R rating. Social media is harder to regulate.

Full reference: Costello, C.R. & Ramo, D.E. (2017) Social Media and Substance Use: What Should We Be Recommending to Teens and Their Parents? Journal of Adolescent Health. 60(6) pp. 629–630

Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement have published a new report, #StatusOfMind, examining the positive and negative effects of social media on young people’s health.

The report includes a league table of social media platforms according to their impact on young people’s mental health. YouTube tops the table as the most positive with Instagram and Snapchat coming out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

RSPH and the Young Health Movement are calling for action from government, social media companies and policy makers to help promote the positive aspects of social media for young people, whilst mitigating the potential negatives. These recommendations include:

  • Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – include the support from young people for each of these recommendations
  • Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support
  • Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated

Download the full report #StatusOfMind

Additional link: BBC news report

Friends’ pictures on social media have biggest impact on body image

Young women are more likely to compare themselves with their peers than with celebrities | The Guardian

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Seeing friends’ carefully curated selfies on Facebook is more likely to induce feelings of guilt or shame among young women, and lead to unnecessary dieting, than images of models or celebrities they see in magazines.

Academics found that young women are more likely to compare their appearance with that of their peers’ images on social media than they were with celebrities on TV, adverts or other forms of traditional media. When they then make an unfavourable comparison with the other woman they are looking at, the impact is more pronounced when the image is on social media.

Women are also more likely to diet and do exercise when negative comparisons take place on sites such as Facebook or Instagram, the research found. The vast majority of study participants were not overweight and did not need to diet.

Read the full news story here

Read the original research abstract here

Social media is not to blame for depression in young people

For all we hear about an escalation in mental health problems in adolescence, there is no persuasive evidence that the internet is to blame | McCrae, N. for The Conversation

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My colleagues and I recently conducted a systematic review of the evidence and found only a weak correlation between teenagers’ use of social media and depression.

After its launch in 2004, the social networking website Facebook rapidly expanded to global coverage. Since the advent of smartphones, instant messaging sites such as WhatsApp have become the most popular means of communication for younger people, who spend much of their lives fixated on digital devices, oblivious to everything around them. Some experts believe that this immersion in cyberspace has negative psychological and social effects, and news reports and opinion pieces in newspapers often portray the internet as a danger to the young.

We examined research measuring social media use and depression in young people up to 18 years of age. Eleven studies, with a total of 12,646 participants, were included. Overall, we found a small but statistically significant relationship between online social interaction and depressed mood.

Read the full blog post here

Read the systematic review here