Using social media is no more “harmful” to young people’s mental health than watching television for young people in the 1990s, according to a new study.
Researchers at Oxford University used data from three large studies to study the lives of more than 400,000 young people in the UK and US.
It is popularly believed that new technologies, especially social media, are responsible for the deterioration of mental health among young people and a number of other social problems.
The team investigated the links between the use of technology and mental health problems in teenagers, declaring that the link between the two was “thin at best.”
They found some limited connection between emotional issues and social media, but not a “smoking gun” pointing to any broader mental health issues associated with its use.
Researchers at Oxford University used data from three large studies to study the lives of more than 400,000 young people in the UK and US
WHAT IS A SMARTPHONE?
The term “smartphone addiction” has often been criticized in the scientific literature.
Some experts say that the lack of severe negative consequences compared to other forms of addiction makes the name misleading.
Some say the problem is not with the smartphone, but it is just a means of accessing social media and the internet.
Instead, alternative terms such as “problematic smartphone use” and concepts have been proposed.
Despite the controversy over the term “smartphone addiction”, as described above, it is still the predominant term in the scientific world.
In addition, the psychometric tools used in many studies explicitly refer to the concept of “smartphone addiction”.
In the coming years, there may be a shift from the term “smartphone addiction” to more appropriate terms, as discussed above.
Lead author Dr. Matt Vuore says that concerns of this type are not new, nor are they well substantiated by current data.
He compared “fear of social media” to warnings of “square eyes” if children watch too much television or that radio will turn teenagers into criminals.
Then, as now, says Dr. Vuore, the popular idea does not seem to be supported by hard evidence or that the use of technology has become more harmful over time.
“Any understanding of adolescence in the 21st century would be incomplete without an appreciation of social media platforms and other digital technologies that have become an integral part of young people’s daily lives over the past few decades,” the team wrote.
The study includes three large studies among young people who report their personal use of technology and various mental health issues.
Using this large body of data, the team set out to investigate the links between the use of technology and mental health problems and whether they have increased over time.
They study this issue by modeling four different mental health outcomes against three forms of technology use in three large nationally representative data sets.
Of these eight models, they found a clinically significant self-reported outcome of mental health, depression, for which the links with the use of technology have become less negative over time.
However, this decline has been found for both television and social media.
According to Dr. Vuorre, these responses to the study did not establish a link between smoking weapons between the use of technology and mental health problems.
They found some limited connection between emotional problems and social media, but there is no “smoking gun” pointing to any of the wider mental health problems associated with its use.
He said, nor did they show that technology has become more harmful over time.
“We found some limited links between the use of social media and emotional issues, for example,” he said.
The researcher added that “it is difficult to understand why they are connected.”
“It could be a number of factors [perhaps people with problems spend more time on social media seeking peer support?].
“Furthermore, there was very little evidence to suggest that these associations increased over time.”
In fact, according to the new study, “technology engagement has become less associated with depression in the last decade, but the use of social media has become more associated with emotional issues.”
The study concludes: “The argument that rapid changes in social media platforms and devices have made them more harmful to adolescents’ mental health over the past decade is also not strongly supported by current data.”
These results do not mean that technology is good for teenagers, or bad, or deteriorating because it is “difficult to determine the role of technology in young people’s lives.”
“Even with some of the larger data sets available to scientists, it is difficult to definitively determine the roles of technology in young people’s lives and how their impact may change over time,” said Dr Vuore.
It is widely believed that new technologies, especially social media, are responsible for the deterioration of mental health among young people and a number of other social problems.
“Scientists are working hard on these issues, but their work is hampered by the fact that most of the data collected on online behavior remains hidden in data warehouses of technology companies.”
In the context of older technologies, such as television, knowledge of social media and the use of digital devices is necessarily limited by their relatively short existence.
That’s why researchers say their results may in part reflect a shorter window for monitoring the use of social media and digital devices than television.
Dr Vuorre added: “We need more transparent collaboration between independent researchers and technology companies. Before we do, we are usually in the dark.
The findings are published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.
METHODS FOR PARENTS TO KEEP THEIR CHILDREN SAFE ONLINE
Two-year-olds use social media, according to a study by the charity Barnardo’s.
Internet companies are forced to do more to combat harmful content online, but parents can also take steps to change the way their children use the web.
Here are some suggestions on how parents can help their children.
Use parental controls
Both iOS and Google offer features that allow parents to filter content and set time limits for apps.
For iOS devices, such as the iPhone or iPad, you can use the Screen Time feature to block certain apps, content types, or features.
In iOS 12, this can be done by going to settings and selecting Screen Time.
For Android, you can install the Family Link app from the Google Play Store.
Talk to your children
Many charities, including the NSPCC, say talking to children about their online activities is vital to keeping them safe.
His website provides a range of tips on how to start a conversation with children about using social media and the wider Internet, including getting parents to visit sites with their children to learn about them together and discuss how to be safe online and act responsibly.
Find out how the internet is used
Tools are available for parents to learn more about how social media platforms work.
Net Aware, a website operated in partnership by NSPCC and O2, offers information on social media sites, including age guidelines.
Limit screen time
The World Health Organization recommends that parents limit young children to 60 minutes of screen time each day.
The guidelines, published in April, suggest that children between the ages of two and five are limited to one hour of screen time per day.
They also recommend that babies avoid any sitting time on the screen, including watching TV or sitting still and playing games on devices.