Dr. Campbell: Social media and mental health


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Social media use in the U.S. is nearly ubiquitous. Teens and young adults represent a large proportion of social media usage. Many teens have never known a world without instant online access.

Now, a new study from Great Britain evaluated the positive and negative effects of social media on the mental health and well being of young people

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1. Tell us about this study

In this most recent study, researchers from the UK surveyed more than 1,500 teens and young people aged 14-24 to score how each social media platform affected factors such as emotional support, depression, body image, loneliness (among others) and impacted their overall mental health and well-being.

They then ranked the social media channels from most positive impact to most negative impact.

Here is what they found:

Snapchat ranked the second worst for mental health of the sites reviewed in the report, followed by Facebook. On the plus side, YouTube topped the list as the most positive, with Twitter coming in after it.

1.   YouTube (most positive)
2.   Twitter
3.   Facebook
4.   Snapchat
5.   Instagram (most negative)

2. How do we explain these rankings and their impact on mental health and well-being?

Experts believe that both Instagram and Snapchat “are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people—Many young girls feel as though their bodies are not good enough when they post pictures on these two platforms and often add filters to achieve perfect pictures.

There are many reports of bullying on Instagram that have led some teens to attempt suicide.

3. What do you recommend when it comes to social media use and teens?

While the researchers agree that there is still much to be learned about social media’s impact on mental health, this study does tell us that there are important conversations that need to be had with teens, especially with young people who are the most vulnerable to potential harms.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.

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