Social media risks for young people

According to the 2016 SA Social Media Landscape study, it was discovered that in South Africa there are:

13 million Facebook users

7.4 million Twitter users

8.28 million YouTube users

2.68 million Instagram users

Social media plays a major part in our everyday lives, and most young people spend a large part of their day engaging on one or more social media platforms.

Social media can have many positive aspects such as:

Helping you connect with loved ones who may be scattered around the world

Connecting with people who have similar interests or passions

And providing you with a platform on which to share stories and experiences

However, research is showing more and more that social media can also have a very negative affect on young people’s mental health. The #StatusOfMind survey, published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health, found that Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health and well-being.

How social media associates with mental illness

The social media site was associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO).

Another study in the United Kingdom of Facebook and Twitter users found that 62% of social media users reported feeling inadequate and 60% reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users. The study also found that these negative feelings can lead to depression.

As we continue to use more and more social media, cyberbullying and harassment also increase. Just like physical bullying, cyber or online bullying:

can have devastating effects on a person’s mental and emotional health

can lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm, substance use and even suicide attempts

Things you can do to protect your mental health when exploring different social media platforms

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