Study casts light on healthy social media use

Children using social media excessively report lower life satisfaction – as do youngsters using none at all

Saturday 6th July 2019

A study looking at the lives of more than 5,000 Scots 12-year olds is suggesting too much social media use can leave a child less satisfied with their life – but so can none at all.

Kids spending between half an hour to three hours a day on social media are more likely to say they are satisfied with their life than kids who use social media for three hours or more, or not at all.

Looking at a representative group of more than 5,000 Scottish children, the Growing up in Scotland study finds youngsters using social media and messaging apps like Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram for more than seven hours on a typical school day are least satisfied with their lives.

It follows a series of Scottish Government initiatives focusing on the links between the online world and young people’s mental health.

An expert group to examine the impact of body image worries was established earlier this year and the government is drawing up advice for screen time usage, after it published research on adolescent girls’ mental wellbeing.

The survey results published earlier this week form part of a study that has been tracking the young people since they were born in 2005.

Researchers asked kids four questions about their lives to calculate an overall life satisfaction score out of 20. The average result on the scale was 15.

They found youngsters using half an hour to two hours of social media a day reported the highest life satisfaction scores.

Those who spent no time online were less satisfied with their lives, dropping to a score of 14.8, while young people spending more than seven hours a day said they were least satisfied with a mean score of just 14.