Social media is ‘no more harmful’ to the mental health of young people than TV in the 1990s

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Social media use is ‘no more harmful’ to youth mental health than watching TV for young people in the 1990s, a new study claims.

Researchers at Oxford University used data from three large surveys to examine the lives of more than 400,000 young people in the UK and US.

New technology, particularly social media, is popularly believed to be responsible for declining youth mental health and a range of other social ailments.

The team examined the links between technology use and mental health problems in teens and stated that the link between the two is “thin at best.”

They found a limited link between emotional problems and social media, but not a ‘smoking gun,’ pointing to broader mental health problems associated with its use.

Oxford University researchers used data from three large surveys to examine the lives of more than 400,000 young people in the UK and US

Oxford University researchers used data from three large surveys to examine the lives of more than 400,000 young people in the UK and US

WHAT IS SMARTPHONE ADDICTION?

The term ‘smartphone addiction’ has often been criticized in the scientific literature.

Some experts argue that the lack of serious negative consequences compared to other forms of addiction makes the name misleading.

Some say that the problem is not with the smartphone, but that it is just a medium to access social media and the Internet.

Instead, alternative terms such as ‘problematic smartphone use’ and concepts have been suggested.

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, a shift can be seen from the term ‘smartphone addiction’ to more appropriate terms, as discussed above.

Lead author Dr. Matt Vuorre says these concerns are neither new nor well justified by current data.

He likened the “ social media fear ” to “ square-eyed ” warnings when kids watch too much television, or that radio would turn teens into crime lives.

As now, says Dr. Vuorre, the popular idea doesn’t seem to be supported by hard evidence, or that technology use has become more harmful over time.

“Any understanding of 21st century adolescence would be incomplete without an appreciation for social media platforms and other digital technologies, which have become an integral part of young people’s daily lives in recent decades,” the team wrote.

The research included three large surveys of young people who reported on their personal use of technology and various mental health problems.

Using this large data set, the team looked for links between technology use and mental health problems, and whether these have increased over time.

They studied this question by modeling four different mental health outcomes against three forms of technology use in three large nationally representative data sets.

From these eight models, they found one clinically relevant self-reported mental health outcome, depression, for which the links to technology use had become less and less negative over time.

However, this decline was noted both on television and on social media.

According to Dr. Vuorre, these survey responses do not link technology use to mental health problems.

They found a limited link between emotional issues and social media, but not a 'smoking gun', pointing to wider mental health issues associated with its use

They found a limited link between emotional issues and social media, but not a ‘smoking gun’, pointing to wider mental health issues associated with its use

He said they also don’t show that technologies have become more harmful over time.

“For example, we have found a limited link between social media use and emotional issues,” he said.

The researcher added that “it is difficult to know why they are associated.”

‘It could be a number of factors [perhaps people with problems spend more time on social media seeking peer support?].

In addition, there was very little evidence to suggest that those associations have increased over time.

According to the new research, “technology engagement was even less strongly associated with depression over the past decade, but social media use was more strongly associated with emotional problems.”

The study concludes, “Therefore, the argument that rapid changes in social media platforms and devices have made them more damaging to adolescent mental health over the past decade is not strongly supported by current data.”

These results do not mean that technology is all good for teens, or all bad, or getting worse, as it is “difficult to determine the role of technology in young people’s lives.”

“Even with some of the larger datasets available to scientists, it is difficult to determine conclusively what role technologies play in young people’s lives, and how their impact may change over time,” said Dr. Vuorre. .

New technology, particularly social media, is popularly believed to be responsible for declining youth mental health and a range of other social ailments.

New technology, particularly social media, is popularly believed to be responsible for declining youth mental health and a range of other social ailments.

‘Scientists are working hard on these questions, but their work is made more difficult because most of the data collected about online behavior remains hidden in the data warehouses of technology companies.’

In the context of older technologies, such as TV, knowledge of the use of social media and digital devices is necessarily limited by their relatively short existence.

Therefore, researchers say their results partially reflect the shorter observation window of social media and digital device use compared to TV.

Dr. Vuorre adds: ‘We need more transparent research collaborations between independent researchers and technology companies. Before we do that, we usually feel in the dark. ‘

The findings are published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

METHODS FOR PARENTS TO KEEP THEIR CHILDREN SAFE ONLINE

Children as young as two use social media, research from Barnardo’s charity suggests.

Internet companies are being pushed to do more to combat harmful content online, but parents can also take steps to change the way their children use the Internet.

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 an iPhone or iPad, you can use the Screen Time feature to block certain apps, content types or functions.

On 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 kids

Many charities, including the NSPCC, say it’s important to talk to kids about their online activities to keep them safe.

The website has some tips on how to start a conversation with children about using social media and the wider Internet, including by letting parents visit sites with their children to learn about them together and discuss how to get online. stay safe and act responsibly.

Understand their internet usage

Tools are available for parents to learn more about how social media platforms work.

Net Aware, a website operated in conjunction with the NSPCC and O2, provides information on social media sites, including guidance on age requirements.

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 daily seated screen time.

They also recommend that babies avoid any seated screen time, including watching TV or sitting still when playing games on devices.

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