Negative experiences on social media can affect adolescents’ mental health
Even what can be considered as less serious incidents on social media can impact young people's mental health, according to new research.
A recent study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) finds a link between negative experiences on social media and mental health among adolescents.
The survey was conducted among more than 3,000 upper secondary school students.
Youth from economically and socially disadvantaged families report more diverse and frequent negative experiences on social media, senior researcher Christoffer Skogen at the NIPH says.
The study finds that even what can be considered as less serious incidents, such as unwanted attention and exclusion, can have an impact on mental health. The recorded negative experiences included being contacted by strangers and receiving negative comments and hurtful messages.
“It’s important to note that even though these negative experiences may seem less severe compared to, for example, cyberbullying, they still appear to have a significant relationship with adolescents’ mental well-being,” Skogen says.
He believes that knowledge about young people's use of social media among the adolescents themselves and adults, in addition to increased engagement from parents and teachers about young people's lives on social media, can help reduce the extent of negative experiences.
The study is part of a larger collaborative project aimed at creating a more health-promoting environment on social media. There is a need for further research to better understand the possible causal relationships, Skogen says.
Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik.
Skogen et al. Commonly reported negative experiences on social media are associated with poor mental health and well-being among adolescents: results from the “LifeOnSoMe”-study, Frontiers in Public Health, vol. 11, 2023. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1192788