More than 90% of young people use social media and three-quarters of the 10 to 12 years old have social media accounts. And the amount of time that children spend online has more than doubled in the last decade. Social media are replacing TV in our children’s hearts. Unfortunately, according to a study from a team of economists at the University of Sheffield, the more time children spend on social media, the less happy they feel about their life.
The researchers found that children between 10 and 15 years old who use social media feel more unhappy about all aspects of their life, except for their friendships. One hour a day chatting online is enough to reduce their overall happiness by 14% and increase their discontent with their school, family, appearance and homework.
It seems that online, children are more likely to make negative comparisons with others. It would explain why girls are more affected than boys and show a greater dissatisfaction with their appearance. Unsurprisingly, the children with the less self-esteem and confidence are the more negatively affected by social media.
On social networks, people tend to portray themselves in an idealized state, enhancing their pictures, their profiles and erasing their imperfections and the downsides of their life. Children being more gullible, they will easily think that other people are prettier, smarter and happier than they are.
There is also evidence that the longer young people spend online, the more likely they are to be victims of cyberbullying, which can do significant damage in overall happiness and self-esteem.
Knowing that childhood wellbeing can have persistent effects in adult life, these findings are important given the central role of social media and social networking in children’s lives.
“Our findings show that social media use can be detrimental on average to young people and this is consistent with a number of findings in previous studies, We can’t say any social media is bad but we can say that the more social media children use, the higher the likelihood that they will be dissatisfied with different domains of their life and their life overall.” said Philip Powell, one of the economists who conducted the research.