The effect of social media on children today’s mental health is alarming.
But one study seeks to challenge the norm and investigate for themselves if social media is truly, all that bad for the next generation.
After analyzing data from a survey of 40,000 households — researchers from Portsmouth and Sheffield universities aimed to identify the biggest risk factors for children’s mental health.
This research could potentially help determine whether social media are either negative or positive for children’s well being and in what circumstance.
A senior research fellow at Portsmouth University, Craig Duncan, is one of three experts working on the project. He says:
“Social media has been associated with all sorts of worries to do with mental health – there’s a lot of anxiety about it.”
“What we are hoping to do is gain data that gives us a sense of those factors most strongly associated with mental health. Is it [young people’s] social media use that’s more important, their local neighborhood or parental influences?”
“We are hoping to reach the stage where, given the data set we have, it is possible to identify particular ages, genders or social backgrounds where social media might be more or less strongly associated with children’s mental health.”
The study focuses on 10-15 year olds using data from the Understanding Society survey — which began in 2009. The study concludes in April.
Both children and adults regularly answer questions regarding mental health, relationships and social media.
And likes from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have been said to have a terrible impact on children’s mental health.
Published by NHS Digital in November, the most recent official statistics on mental health in England found 11-19 year olds with a disorder.
They were more likely to use social media everyday than those without.
Young people with a disorder spent more time on social media while females of the same age group were more likely to compare themselves with others on social media.
But the Mental Health Foundation said how the research has yet to provide a conclusive answer.
The team hopes to put in place guidelines for mental health authorities so they may recognize when social media could help aid people and when it could make them feel more terrible.
Parental influence is another key factor in the study — including the mental health of a child’s parents or careers.
Duncan, who carried out the research with Prof Liz Twigg at Portsmouth University and Prof Scott Weich at Sheffield, shared how that if their model suggested a week association with mental help, it was very important to not dominate the conversation at the risk of doing harm to others.
“Professionals’ focus needs to be on whatever factors are most associated with mental health,” he said.
The director of research, Sophie Dix, at MQ: Transforming Mental Health, shared:
“This research brings together two of the key areas where speculation is rife in the mental health of young people: relationships with parents and social media. It is essential to gain some real understanding into how, on a large scale, we can look at patterns and use an evidence base to form plans to help young people.”
NOW WATCH: Sweden Actually Turns It’s Garbage Into Energy | Save The World