Can Social Media and Mental Health Ever Be Friends?

Love it or hate it?

#alwayson vs #alwaysoff

For years now, all everyone talks about regarding social media is how bad it is for our wellbeing. Cyberbullying, low self-esteem, eating disorders and suicide are just a sample of the issues associated with time spent online. Despite social media's bad reputation, three billion people, (that's roughly 40% of the world's population), use social media regardless of the alleged side effects. On average, we spend an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms. In fact, our June cover star, Samantha Barry, spends 11 hours on her phone every day. 

But if three billion use social media, can it really be all that bad? Well according to the University of Oxford - no.

A new study has found that time spent on social media only has a "tiny" effect on the wellbeing of young people, despite popular belief. Research conducted using 12,000 teenagers found that their family, friends and school life all had more of an impact on their life satisfaction than social media use. 

According to their research, endlessly scrolling through fashion influencers dancing whilst showing us how to wear the same satin midi skirt five ways appears to have little to no effect on wellbeing. Professor Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben found that the effect of social media accounts for approximately one per cent of a teenager's wellbeing. 

"99.75 per cent of a person's life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media"

Technology is becoming increasingly pervasive in young people's lives, and the effects of social media use are a growing concern to parents and teachers. So much so that in our recent social media poll, Irish Tatler reader's were split directly down the middle as to whether or not technology should belong in a child's life. 

However, for every piece of research that shows in favour of social media, there are ten others against. Just last month, a study found that is impossible to take a flattering selfie unless you're 5 feet away from your lens. Anything closer (which selfies tend to be) results in a distorted image, with the nasal size appearing up to 30% larger than it actually is for men and 29% larger for women. Research that had led scientists to believe that this proven distortion of physical features can also have a detrimental effect on self-esteem – not only psychologically but physically too. 

It's a digital world - and we're just living in it. 

Main image by Photo by Photo by Photo by Devin Avery

READ: Our Editor On: The One True Positive of ‘Always On’ Culture

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