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Social Media Damaging Teenagers' Mental Health and Self Esteem, New Study Reveals


By Isaac Akugizibwe

KIU, Main Campus - A newly released report by the Education Policy Institute and The Prince's Trust has it that boys and girls around the age of 14 to 18 are being mentally affected by heavy use of social media. The research used data from 5,000 young people in England from the Millennium Cohort Study.

Heavy social media use was linked to negative wellbeing and self-esteem, regardless of a young person's mental state, with more girls experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness. The study indicates that the wellbeing of both genders fell during adolescence, with girls experiencing a greater decline.

The report reads that; one in three girls was unhappy with their personal appearance by the age of 14, compared with one in seven at the end of primary school. The number of young people with probable mental illness has risen to one in six, up from one in nine in 2017. Boys in the bottom set at primary school had lower self-esteem at 14 than their peers.

“Those who feel worse may turn to social media for solace or community,” Dr Amy Orben, research fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, said of the research.

Focus groups were also carried out in November to examine the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on these ages.

Family income, exercise and poor maternal health also contributed to young people’s mental state, the study found. But regular exercise had a positive impact on both genders, the report said

However, the study concludes that girls' self-esteem and wellbeing stabilises as they move into their late teens, whereas it continues to drop for boys.