The Impact of Social Media on Youth
- Masters Thesis
- Luna, Raquel
- Laija-rodriguez, Wilda
- Geisser, Michael
- Restori, Alberto
- California State University, Northridge
- Social Media and Youth
- Dissertations, Academic -- CSUN -- Education -- Educational Psychology and Counseling -- School Psychology.
- Impact of Social Media
- Youth and Social Media
- by Raquel Luna
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- v.14(10); 2022 Oct
Reviewing the Impact of Social Media on the Mental Health of Adolescents and Young Adults
1 Pharmacology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha, IND
Dr. Sangita Jogdand
Adolescents now cannot imagine their lives without social media. Practitioners want to be able to assess risk, and social media may be a new factor to take into account. The impression of the link between social networks and intellectual health holds a strong emphasis on adolescent and professional perspectives, although there is little research that underlies these beliefs. Sexting, privacy concerns, cyberbullying, and negative impacts on education and mental health are dangers connected with social media use in this population. However, ethical social media use can increase opportunities for connection and communication, boosting one's self-esteem, promoting one's health, and getting access to crucial medical information. Despite rising evidence of the harmful impacts of social media on adolescent mental health, there is still a paucity of empirical research on how teenagers understand social media, notably as a body of wisdom, or how they can use the larger modern media discourses to voice an opinion. The youth use smartphones and other media in high numbers, which leads to chronic sleep deprivation, having a detrimental impact on cognitive ability, school performance, and socio-emotional functioning. Smartphone and social media use among teenagers are associated with an increase in mental distress, self-harming behaviours, and suicidality, according to evidence from numerous cross-sectional, longitudinal, and empirical studies. Clinicians can collaborate with young people and their families to mitigate the potential risks associated with social media and smartphone use by employing open, nonjudgmental, and developmentally appropriate strategies, such as education and practical problem-solving.
Introduction and background
Teenagers now have unprecedented access to digital content via a variety of gadgets, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and gaming systems. Today's media landscape is more expansive and diverse than ever before. Social media is a key component of this ecosystem. Social media, in its broadest meaning, refers to any digital application or software that allows users to engage in social interaction. Nearly half (46%) of US teenagers report using the internet "nearly continuously" in 2018, an increase from 24% in 2015 [ 1 ]. The widespread use of new media has produced a complicated world that young people, parents, medical professionals, and legislators must manage. While this media environment has created several fresh hazards and concerns for young people's mental health, it has also offered several unique advantages and opportunities [ 2 ]. Studies suggest that social media may influence teens to adopt unfavourable attitudes and behaviours [ 3 ]. Media formats, including digital platforms and interactive engagement, collectively referred to as social media, encompass media including email, text, blogs, message boards, dating applications, connection sites, games, and social networking sites [ 4 ]. Social networking platforms are created to facilitate online communication and information sharing, which has increased during the past 10 years. Youth utilize at least one of the following seven social networking sites at a rate of 97% among all teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17: adolescents spend most of their online time on YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%), Snapchat (69%), Facebook (51%), Twitter (32%), Tumblr (9%), or Reddit (7%) [ 5 ]. Recent research on the relationship between online communities and depression has found a common connection between the use of social networks by adolescents and depression, though there are some places where these findings are contradictory (like the relationship between screen time and mental health issues) and the quality of the evidence is not of great importance [ 6 ].
The use of social media and depression in teens are "generally correlated"; however, there have been inconsistent results in certain areas (such as the relationship between time spent on social media and mental health issues), and the quality of the data is generally low [ 7 ]. Using social media may increase the risk of self-harm, loneliness, and a decrease in empathy, based on particular studies. Other research either showed no harm or suggested that certain people may benefit from using social media [ 8 ]. Social media increasingly has taken a key place in young people's lives due to the rapid evolution of the technology landscape in recent years. Both huge new obstacles and fascinating new opportunities have been brought forth by social media. Research is starting to show how particular social media interactions may affect young people's mental health [ 9 ]. On social media, adolescents may communicate with others, publish, like, and share. These are generally considered to be active users. However, adolescents can also utilise social media passively by lurking and viewing solely the content of others. The binary distinction between active and passive usage does not reveal whether a certain behaviour is goal-directed or suggestive of procrastination [ 10 ]. For instance, procrastination may be characterised as conversing with others while delaying work on a more vital activity. Keeping up with friends' lives might be the purpose of seeing other people's content rather than participating with others. The social or nonsocial nature of the usage is a crucial distinction between different kinds. There are considerable hurdles in comprehending and measuring these many digital technology applications. Philosophically and empirically combining all digital acts into a single predictor of pleasure would always reduce accuracy [ 11 ].
The terms like "social media", "teenagers", "mental health", "digital media", "adolescents", and "social networking sites" were searched for in a database like "PubMed". Only results pertaining to the English language were shown. If there were more than one published report from a similar study, the latest one was used. Only review articles that also had original data were taken into account.
Is social media good or bad?
Conceptually, grouping the behaviours and use patterns under a single name disregards the reality that they serve different objectives and provide different results. When digital technology is viewed as a generic activity, its countless possible forms are disregarded. In light of this, it is essential to acknowledge that the effects of digital technology on teenagers' well-being are multifaceted [ 12 ]. This empirical uncertainty is exacerbated by the dearth of established measurements of technology usage. For the vast majority of work, self-reports of such are utilised. Self-reports have been shown to be inaccurate and of low validity due to their poor association with objective assessments of technology use [ 13 ]. The correlation between self-reported smartphone usage patterns and objectively documented usage is, at best, weak. Self-reports and objective measures yield the same results when comparing internet usage in general. In addition to losing precision by putting all types of technology usage under one behavioural category, this category's measurement also contributes to a loss of precision when taken as a whole. To achieve accuracy, we must examine the implications of diverse applications, ideally as assessed by science [ 14 ].
The outcomes of these studies have frequently been ambiguous, with many indicating that social media use has a minor but significant detrimental influence on mental health. A rising body of research tries to provide more in-depth understanding of the factors that influence adolescent development [ 15 ]. Since social media uses a variety of digital methods, it is difficult to sum up how it affects young people as a whole. In order to utilise and respond to social media in either adaptive or maladaptive ways, it is important to first understand personal characteristics that some kids may be more prone to exhibit. The precise social media practices or experiences that put teens in danger must also be identified. If we specifically survey US teenagers, 31% feel the impacts are primarily beneficial, 45% believe they are neither positive nor destructive, and 24% think they are unfavourable [ 16 ]. Teens who viewed social media as advantageous stated that it let them connect with friends, learn new things, and meet people with similar interests. According to those who believe the repercussions are serious, social media increases the likelihood of (i) bullying, (ii) neglecting face-to-face encounters, and (iii) acquiring erroneous assumptions about other people's lives. In addition, there is potential for avoiding depression and suicide by identifying symptoms utilising content. The relationship between offline and online risk has emerged as a recurrent theme in this field of study. The notion that the virtual age and its impacts are too complicated, fast-changing, or subtle for us to completely comprehend or successfully lead young people through is contested, challenging a typical message to parents. Helping youth with their online experiences and interactions is more likely to involve many of the same principles that drive healthy development and form the foundation of good parenting. If this is the case, it is excellent news for parents and guardians since it shows that existing evidence-based therapies and initiatives will continue to be effective in supporting teenagers in the digital age, regardless of any physical changes. Mediators of the association between social and adolescent depression and suicidality would be the final issue to examine (e.g., gender, age, and parental involvement) [ 17 ].
Risks of using social media in young adults
Peer experiences have a significant influence on the development and persistence of psychopathology in adolescents. In the realm of social media, peer relationships can be more frequent, intense, and quick. Previous research has highlighted a number of specific online peer interactions as possible mental health risk factors [ 17 ]. Cyber victimisation, or being the subject of online bullying, is frequently associated with increased rates of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and other internalising and externalising problems. In addition, social media peer pressure, such as rejection from peers, online fights, and drama or conflict, may place young people in jeopardy. Online, where adolescents have access to a variety of their peers as well as potentially harmful content, peer influence processes may also be increased. If young people are exposed to social media content depicting dangerous behaviour, their likelihood of participating in such behaviour may increase (such as drinking and other drug usage). It may be easy to access internet resources that deal with self-harm and suicide, which might increase the risk of self-harm among at-risk youth [ 18 ]. According to a recent study, 14.8% of young people referred to mental hospitals because they posed a risk to others or themselves had accessed online resources that promoted suicide in the two weeks leading up to their admission [ 19 ]. They choose to display pics of themselves on social sites, which results in a constant stream of messages and images that are frequently meticulously edited to portray people in a positive manner. This puts an impact on certain young people, causing them to start comparing their accomplishments, aptitudes, or looks negatively. Studies have connected upper levels of social networking comparison to the depressive symptoms of adolescents [ 20 ].
Finally, it's critical to consider the issue of displacement, or what other vital activities are being replaced by time spent on social media, when assessing how technology use affects teenage mental health. It is common knowledge that young people's sleep patterns have a significant impact on their development and mental health. But earlier research has consistently connected using a mobile device before bed with lower sleep quality results, which include shorter sleep lengths, decreased sleep quality, and weariness during the day. Notably, 36% of teenagers say they wake up at least once throughout the night to check their gadgets, and 40% say they use a mobile device within five minutes of going to bed [ 21 ]. Therefore, the effect of social media on sleep quality continues to be a significant risk factor for later mental health issues in young people, making it a crucial subject for continued study. The majority of research on the relationship between social media use and depressive symptoms has focused on how often and problematically people use it [ 22 ]. The majority of the studies considered in this review revealed a positive and reciprocal association between social media use and depression and, occasionally, suicidality. It is yet unknown whether there is a connection between using the drug and depression or suicidality, and it is also uncertain how much adolescents' vulnerability and the substance's use features affect this connection. It is also unknown if other environmental elements, such as parental guidance and support or cultural disparities, have an effect on this link. Although it's possible that moderate use is associated with better self-regulation, it's unclear whether this is the result of intermediate users having innately better self-regulation [ 23 ].
Benefits of social media
Although the majority of the discussion about young people and new media has focused on possible problems, there are now more chances than ever to support adolescent mental health thanks to the distinctive characteristics of the social media ecosystem. Using social media may offer opportunities for humour and amusement, identity creation, and creative expression, among other advantages Teenagers now own more mobile devices than ever before, and they utilize social media at levels never before seen. Given how strongly young people are lured to digital devices and the affordances they provide, as well as their increased demand for novelty, social approval, and affinity, this may not come as a surprise. As teenagers spend more time interacting with digital technology, there is an urgent need to understand the ramifications of this usage and employ new technologies to benefit rather than harm adolescents' mental health and well-being. We should instead emphasise that digital technology is neither beneficial nor evil in and of itself in light of the current public debate [ 24 ]. Social connection is one of the most well-known advantages of social media, with 81% of students reporting that it increases their sense of connectedness to their peers. Teenagers frequently consider connecting with friends and family as the main advantage of social media, and prior research typically confirms that doing so increases people's well-being, using social media to boost acceptability or a sense of belonging [ 25 ]. The potential of digital media for boosting adolescent mental health extends beyond its regular usage by adolescents to encompass cutting-edge uses in screening, treatment, and prevention in the medical field [ 26 ]. Regarding screening, earlier research has shown the possible viability of looking through social media pages for indications of depression or drug misuse [ 19 ]. In general, more sophisticated machine learning techniques have been developed to recognise symptoms of mental illness, such as melancholy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidality, on social media [ 27 ]. The majority of existing research on adolescent media consumption relies on self-report measures. Because research has only been done once, it is impossible to establish definitive conclusions about whether media use precedes and predicts harmful impacts on mental health. Adults frequently point the finger at the media for the issues facing the younger generation [ 28 ].
We shouldn't solely attribute media panics to the novel and the unknown because they are cyclical. Because of technology, teenagers' time management, worldview, and interpersonal interactions have undergone remarkable and quick changes. Thanks to social media, there is unprecedented potential to raise awareness of mental health issues, and social media-based promoting health programmes have been evaluated for a variety of cognitive and behavioural health diseases. Young individuals with mental health concerns have intriguing therapy choices thanks to social media's immediate accessibility and wide possibilities, including the chance to reach hard-to-reach locations [ 29 ]. Youth-focused mental health mobile applications are acceptable, according to preliminary data, but additional study is required to determine their value and efficacy. Due to the increasing importance of digital media in young people's lives, they are now faced with new challenges and opportunities. According to an increasing body of studies, social media usage among adolescents may affect their mental health. But given how quickly the digital media ecosystem changes, additional study is required [ 30 ].
Technology in the digital age does not "happen" to people instead, people use technology effectively. According to studies, utilising digital technology won't harm the average teen, but that doesn't mean there aren't circumstances with negative and serious consequences. In this study, we found that in-depth research on social media usage found a link to adolescent depression. Most research is cross-sectional; hence longitudinal studies are needed. Social media is entrenched in young people's social and personal lives. Professional organisations advise parents, educators, and institutions based on inadequate and inconsistent information about youth and digital technology. Policies limiting teens' access to new technologies can be futile if these tools are essential to stimulate social contact or develop digital and relational (digitally mediated) skills for emerging economies. In terms of health, reaching young people during crises and when help is needed is most important. Access to a variety of friendships and services may boost teen well-being.
The content published in Cureus is the result of clinical experience and/or research by independent individuals or organizations. Cureus is not responsible for the scientific accuracy or reliability of data or conclusions published herein. All content published within Cureus is intended only for educational, research and reference purposes. Additionally, articles published within Cureus should not be deemed a suitable substitute for the advice of a qualified health care professional. Do not disregard or avoid professional medical advice due to content published within Cureus.
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Home > ETD > 7210
Examining the impact of social media on youth self-perceived mental health.
Chantal Singh , The University of Western Ontario Follow
Master of Science
Dr. Richard Booth
Dr. Kim Jackson
Background : The development of social media has altered the lives of individuals worldwide enabling people to connect and share opinions, content, and even life milestones with one another. Further, the use of social media platforms has significantly increased over the past decade, particularly popular among youth. To date, it is estimated that 86% of Ontario youth use social media on a daily, and more than half of today’s youth report utilizing social media platforms multiple times per day. With the rise of social media among youth, questions have begun to emerge whether the use of these communication technologies are associated with increasing mental health concerns.
Objectives: Two objectives were undertaken in this thesis: (1) completion of a scoping review; and, (2) presentation of a proposed study to explore the relationship between social media, and self-reported mental health among youth users.
Methods : A scoping literature review guided by the Arksey and O’Malley framework was used to complete a synthesis of relevant literature available on this topic. For the proposed study, a protocol and analysis plan to examine the secondary data arising from Cycle 27 of the Global Social Survey (Statistics Canada) is proposed. The Social-Ecological Model is presented as the theoretical framework to guide the proposed study.
Results: Among the twenty articles examined for the purpose of this scoping review, a total of seven articles met the predetermined inclusion criteria. The available literature was examined and a range of themes related to youth mental health and social media use were generated.
Conclusion: Understanding the implications of social media use on the mental health of the youth who use it is essential to improving and maintaining health and well-being of youth. The results yielded from this literature review indicate that youth users may not fully understand the implications these new forms of technology have on their mental health and well-being. This proposed study provides further potential implications for policy development related to the use of social media, but also from a health literacy perspective related to youth, parents, and the general population in terms of social media use and mental health and well-being.
Keywords: Social media; social media use; youth; mental health; mental well-being
Summary for Lay Audience
The use of social media has revolutionized daily life. This technology has provided many opportunities to optimize care delivery within health and social systems, enhance communication, and reduce obstacles due to physical and geographical distance. For many of today’s youth who have grown up in the technological age, they have never known a world without social media and the ability to share their thoughts, content, and experiences online. In fact, Ontario youth report that over 85% use social media on a daily basis (if not more often) (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2015). Since the conception of social media just over a decade ago, there is no doubt it has dramatically transformed the way in which we interact with one another.
During the last 10 to 15 years the rates of youth mental illness in the province of Ontario (and across Canada) has also risen dramatically. In fact, youth presenting to emergency departments with mental health related concerns has risen over 35% (Gill et al, 2017). With over 80% of adulthood mental health disorders stemming from childhood (Children’s Mental Health Ontario [CMHO], 2020), and 1 in 3 Canadians affected by mental health in their lifetime (Statistics Canada, 2019), it is imperative that factors that may affect the mental health of youth be further explored, including the use of social media in youths’ daily lives.
This dissertation outlines the concepts of social media use and mental health as it relates to youth in Ontario, as well as current available literature in this area, and a proposed research project to further delve into this complex social and health issue.
Singh, Chantal, "Examining the Impact of Social Media on Youth Self-Perceived Mental Health" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository . 7210. https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/7210
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Teens and social media use: What's the impact?
Social media is a big part of many teens' lives. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey of nearly 750 13- to 17-year-olds found that 45% are online almost constantly and 97% use a social media platform, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.
But what impact does social media use have on teens?
Social media benefits
Social media allows teens to create online identities, communicate with others and build social networks. These networks can provide teens with valuable support, especially helping those who experience exclusion or have disabilities or chronic illnesses.
Teens also use social media for entertainment and self-expression. And the platforms can expose teens to current events, allow them to interact across geographic barriers and teach them about a variety of subjects, including healthy behaviors. Social media that's humorous or distracting or provides a meaningful connection to peers and a wide social network might even help teens avoid depression.
Social media harms
However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure.
The risks might be related to how much social media teens use. A 2019 study of more than 6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S. found that those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems. Another 2019 study of more than 12,000 13- to 16-year-olds in England found that using social media more than three times a day predicted poor mental health and well-being in teens.
Other studies also have observed links between high levels of social media use and depression or anxiety symptoms. A 2016 study of more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use and emotional investment in social media — such as feeling upset when prevented from logging on — were each linked with worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression.
How teens use social media also might determine its impact. A 2015 study found that social comparison and feedback seeking by teens using social media and cellphones was linked with depressive symptoms. In addition, a small 2013 study found that older adolescents who used social media passively, such as by just viewing others' photos, reported declines in life satisfaction. Those who used social media to interact with others or post their own content didn't experience these declines.
And an older study on the impact of social media on undergraduate college students showed that the longer they used Facebook, the stronger was their belief that others were happier than they were. But the more time the students spent going out with their friends, the less they felt this way.
Because of teens' impulsive natures, experts suggest that teens who post content on social media are at risk of sharing intimate photos or highly personal stories. This can result in teens being bullied, harassed or even blackmailed. Teens often create posts without considering these consequences or privacy concerns.
Protecting your teen
There are steps you can take to encourage responsible use of social media and limit some of its negative effects. Consider these tips:
- Set reasonable limits. Talk to your teen about how to avoid letting social media interfere with his or her activities, sleep, meals or homework. Encourage a bedtime routine that avoids electronic media use, and keep cellphones and tablets out of teens' bedrooms. Set an example by following these rules yourself.
- Monitor your teen's accounts. Let your teen know that you'll be regularly checking his or her social media accounts. You might aim to do so once a week or more. Make sure you follow through.
- Explain what's not OK. Discourage your teen from gossiping, spreading rumors, bullying or damaging someone's reputation — online or otherwise. Talk to your teen about what is appropriate and safe to share on social media.
- Encourage face-to-face contact with friends. This is particularly important for teens vulnerable to social anxiety disorder.
- Talk about social media. Talk about your own social media habits. Ask your teen how he or she is using social media and how it makes him or her feel. Remind your teen that social media is full of unrealistic images.
If you think your teen is experiencing signs or symptoms of anxiety or depression related to social media use, talk to your child's health care provider.
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- Viner RM, et al. Roles of cyberbullying, sleep, and physical activity in mediating the effects of social media use on mental health and wellbeing among young people in England: A secondary analysis of longitudinal data. The Lancet. Child & Adolescent Health. 2019; doi:10.1016/S2352-4642(19)30186-5.
- Riehm KE, et al. Associations between time spent using social media and internalizing and externalizing problems among US youth. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2325.
- Woods HC, et al. #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Journal of Adolescence. 2016; doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2016.05.008.
- LeBourgeois MK, et al. Digital media and sleep in childhood and adolescence. Pediatrics. 2017; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1758J.
- Hoge E, et al. Digital media, anxiety, and depression in children. Pediatrics. 2017; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1758G.
- Council on Communications and Media. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2016; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2592.Brown A, et al. Beyond 'turn it off': How to advise families on media use. AAP News. 2015; https://www.aappublications.org/content/36/10/54. Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.
- Kross E, et al. Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PlOS One. 2013; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069841.
- Verduyn P, et al. Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General. 2015; doi:10.1037/xge0000057.
- Talking to kids and teens about social media and sexting — Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Talking-to-Kids-and-Teens-About-Social-Media-and-Sexting.aspx. Accessed Nov. 19, 2019.
- Teens, social media & technology 2018. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/. Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.
- Nesi J, et al. Using social media for social comparison and feedback-seeking: Gender and popularity moderate associations with depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2015; doi:10.1007/s10802-015-0020-0.
- Chou HT, et al. "They are happier and having better lives than I am": The impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others' lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. 2012; doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0324.
- Bieber ED (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Dec. 4, 2019.
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Dissertation Topics on the Effects of Social Media on the Youth
Published by Owen Ingram at January 6th, 2023 , Revised On October 5, 2023
Social Media has plenty of advantages and disadvantages, depending on the purpose it is used for. One of the key disadvantages of the excessive use of social media is the adverse impacts on health and the youth’s overall development.
Researchers have found out that today’s youth are extremely indulged in the world of social media. Thus they are a victim of negative thoughts and self-pity. Many research studies have been conducted on the effects of social media on the youth, and time and again, the results have been the same, i.e. they have negative impacts on youth development.
Most effects of social media on the youth are health-related, be it mental or physical. Teenagers compare themselves to their peers, colleagues, etc., and then become victims of the inferiority complex. Emotions such as jealousy and hate grow and eventually take over their personality.
Thus, adults and parents must understand all such negative impacts to take precautionary measures for their children. To understand more about this topic, here are five dissertation topics on the effects of social media on the youth that will help explore the problem in detail.
These topics have been developed by PhD qualified writers of our team , so you can trust to use these topics for drafting your dissertation.
You may also want to start your dissertation by requesting a brief research proposal from our writers on any of these topics, which includes an introduction to the problem, research question , aim and objectives, literature review , along with the proposed methodology of research to be conducted. Let us know if you need any help in getting started.
Check our example dissertation to get an idea of how to structure your dissertation .
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Covid-19 The Effects of Social Media on the Youth Research Topics
The role of social media during the coronavirus pandemic.
Research Aim: This study will focus on social media’s role during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Social media and physical activity education for young people
Research Aim: This study will address physical activity education through social media during COVID-19.
Social media connecting people during COVID-19
Research Aim: This study will highlight social media’s role in connecting people during the lockdown.
Social media and students
Research Aim: This study will focus on social media’s role in educating students.
A Study of the Effects of Social Media on Academic Development
Research Aim: Social Media is known for its many benefits to all types of users. Many social media platforms offer academic guidance and assistance to students; however, not all are beneficial for them. Most students spend more time on social media than studying.
Therefore, their social media usage must be restricted so they are not left behind. This research will discuss how social media impacts students’ academic performance because they spend most of their time using different social media websites.
The phenomenon of social media addiction,n which is a major cause behind the decline in students’ academic performances, will be discussed in detail in the study.
How Social Media Affects the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Youth
Research Aim: Social Media is not only a networking platform, but it also affects students’ minds in a manner where they cannot focus on something else. In the times we live in, we see our youth addicted to social networking through different social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Comparing themselves with others is another reason why their mental wellbeing and development are affected. This research will investigate how social media influences youth’s minds and how their mental development is at risk due to the increased use of social media. Furthermore, the study will explore methods that can help to improve this situation.
How Can Research Prospect Help?
Research Prospect writers can send several custom topic ideas to your email address. Once you have chosen a topic that suits your needs and interests, you can order for our dissertation outline service , which will include a brief introduction to the topic, research questions , literature review , methodology , expected results , and conclusion . The dissertation outline will enable you to review the quality of our work before placing the order for our full dissertation writing service !
A Critical Analysis of the Effects of Social Media on how Youth Perceive Physical Appearances
Research Aim: Being exposed to celebrities, models, etc., has changed how youth perceive physical appearances. With social media advertising, people are always being bombarded with celebrity endorsements, models advertising various products, or people showing off their bodies in gyms, etc.
This has changed the way young people perceive body image. For them, a person should be in perfect shape, i.e. slim and smart. Anyone who does not fall into this category is then body shamed. This research will talk about such instances and how social media has increased body shaming to the extent of causing suicides.
Social Media and Youth Sleep Deprivation: How are the Two Related?
Research Aim: Youth is in the race to stay updated on every current event and not miss out on anything. This is the very reason that they are losing sleep and moving towards sleep deprivation. Everyone knows how important sleep is; losing it for things like social media is not worth it.
This research will discuss how sleep deprivation has increased due to social media and how the youth are being impacted mentally and physically due to lack of sleep.
Lack of Interpersonal Skills Development in Youth – Is Social Media the Culprit?
Research Aim: Back in the days when there were no social media, everyone communicated face-to-face. Confidence was developed, and self-esteem was boosted with such interactions. On the other hand, today, everyone is connected through different social media platforms and technology.
Communication through laptops, smartphones, and tablets is the cause of lack of Interpersonal skills, which also impacts personality development. This research will discuss how social media has killed interpersonal skills and how to improve the situation.
As a student of social media effects looking to get good grades, it is essential to develop new ideas and experiment on existing effects of social media theories – i.e., to add value and interest in your research topic.
Social media effects are vast and interrelated to so many other academic disciplines like civil engineering , law , and even healthcare . That is why creating a social media dissertation topic that is articular, sound, and actually solves a practical problem that may be rampant in the field is imperative.
We can’t stress how important it is to develop a logical research topic; it is based on your entire research. There are several significant downfalls to getting your topic wrong; your supervisor may not be interested in working on it, the topic has no academic creditability, the research may not make logical sense, there is a possibility that the study is not viable.
This impacts your time and efforts in writing your dissertation , as you may end up in the cycle of rejection at the initial stage of the dissertation. That is why we recommend reviewing existing research to develop a topic, taking advice from your supervisor, and even asking for help in this particular stage of your dissertation.
While developing a research topic, keeping our advice in mind will allow you to pick one of the best effects of social media dissertation topics that fulfil your requirement of writing a research paper and add to the body of knowledge.
Therefore, it is recommended that when finalizing your dissertation topic, you read recently published literature to identify gaps in the research that you may help fill.
Remember- dissertation topics need to be unique, solve an identified problem, be logical, and be practically implemented. Please look at some of our sample effects of social media dissertation topics to get an idea for your own dissertation.
How to Structure your Dissertation on Effects of Social Media on the Youth
A well-structured dissertation can help students to achieve a high overall academic grade.
- A Title Page
- Abstract: A summary of the research completed
- Table of Contents
- Introduction : This chapter includes the project rationale, research background, key research aims and objectives, and the research problems. An outline of the structure of a dissertation can also be added to this chapter.
- Literature Review : This chapter presents relevant theories and frameworks by analyzing published and unpublished literature on the chosen research topic to address research questions . The purpose is to highlight and discuss the selected research area’s relative weaknesses and strengths whilst identifying any research gaps. Break down the topic and key terms that can positively impact your dissertation and your tutor.
- Methodology : The data collection and analysis methods and techniques employed by the researcher are presented in the Methodology chapter, which usually includes research design , research philosophy, research limitations, code of conduct, ethical consideration, data collection methods, and data analysis strategy .
- Findings and Analysis : Findings of the research are analysed in detail under the Findings and Analysis chapter. All key findings/results are outlined in this chapter without interpreting the data or drawing any conclusions. It can be useful to include graphs, charts, and tables in this chapter to identify meaningful trends and relationships.
- Discussion and Conclusion : The researcher presents his interpretation of results in this chapter and states whether the research hypothesis has been verified or not. An essential aspect of this section of the paper is to link the results and evidence from the literature. Recommendations with regards to implications of the findings and directions for the future may also be provided. Finally, a summary of the overall research, along with final judgments, opinions, and comments, must be included in the form of suggestions for improvement.
- References : This should be completed following your University’s requirements
- Appendices : Any additional information, diagrams, and graphs used to complete the dissertation but not part of the dissertation should be included in the Appendices chapter. Essentially, the purpose is to expand the information/data.
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The impacts of social media on youth self-image
In the age of smartphones and constant connectivity, social media has become an integral part of the lives of today's youth. While social media platforms provide various benefits, they also wield a profound influence on youth self-image. Clinical therapists Samantha Gonzalez AMFT, APCC, and Alyssa Acosta, APCC, lead the Adolescent Partial Hospital Program at Loma Linda University Behavioral Health. Together, they break down the impact of social media on the self-perception and mental well-being of young individuals, shedding light on the challenges they face in maintaining a healthy self-image in a digital age.
The Illusion of Perfection
One of the primary ways social media affects youth self-image is through the propagation of an idealized and often unattainable standard of beauty.
"Social media platforms are flooded with meticulously curated profiles, showcasing seemingly perfect lives, flawless appearances, and ideal bodies,” Acosta says. “This constant exposure to images of seemingly perfect individuals can lead young people to develop unrealistic expectations about their own appearance and life achievements.”
She says comparing oneself to these distorted representations can lead to feelings of inadequacy, lowered self-esteem, and even body dysmorphia.
Seeking Validation and Social Approval
The proliferation of social media has also fueled the need for validation and social approval among young people. The number of likes, comments, and followers has become a measure of self-worth, amplifying the pressure to present an idealized version of oneself online. Acosta says the desire for external validation can lead to the adoption of unhealthy behaviors such as excessive self-promotion, seeking attention through provocative images or posts, and even resorting to online bullying or negative comparisons to others.
Cyberbullying and Negative Feedback Loops
Reports show 16% of high school students experienced cyberbullying. Social media platforms can provide grounds for cyberbullying and negative feedback loops, which can have devastating consequences for youth self-image, according to Gonzalez Unlike face-to-face interactions, online platforms enable anonymity and distance, emboldening individuals to engage in hurtful behavior. Gonzalez says negative comments, cyberbullying, and online harassment can have a profound impact on a young person's self-esteem, leading to feelings of worthlessness, depression, and anxiety. The constant exposure to such negativity can create a toxic cycle, further exacerbating their mental well-being.
Comparison and Fear of Missing Out
Youth today are bombarded with constant updates on the lives of their peers through social media. The fear of missing out can intensify when scrolling through posts about parties, travel, achievements, or milestones.
“This incessant comparison can foster a sense of dissatisfaction with one's own life and accomplishments, leading to a negative self-perception,” Acosta says. “The curated nature of social media feeds often fails to represent the full spectrum of experiences and emotions, reinforcing an unrealistic sense of what a ‘successful’ or ‘fulfilled’ life should look like.”
Nurturing a Healthy Self-Image
While social media can have detrimental effects on youth self-image, it is important to remember that it is not inherently negative. Gonzalez and Acosta say there are ways to mitigate the negative impacts and promote a healthier self-perception among young individuals:
- Media literacy: Educating youth about the influence of social media and promoting critical thinking skills can help them discern between reality and the illusion of perfection.
- Setting boundaries: Encouraging young people to set limits on their social media usage and prioritize offline activities can foster a healthier balance.
- Positive reinforcement: Recognizing and celebrating achievements, talents, and qualities beyond social media metrics can reinforce a sense of self-worth based on internal validation.
- Promoting open communication: Creating a safe space where young people feel comfortable discussing their concerns about self-image and social media can provide valuable support.
- Diverse representation: Encouraging the promotion and celebration of diverse body types, ethnicities, abilities, and accomplishments on social media can challenge narrow beauty standards and inspire a more inclusive self-image.
May is Mental Health Month. Loma Linda University Behavioral Health leads the region in mental health treatment offering the full spectrum of behavioral health programs and services to fit your needs in Redlands, Murrieta, and Rancho Cucamonga. Click here to request more information about the mental health programs offered.
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Impact of Social Media on Youth
Social media has been ingrained into our society today to such extent that it is virtually impossible for people to take you seriously, if you are not on any social media platform. Everyone is on social media – young, old, rich, poor etc. Everyone is always in a frenzy when it comes to socializing online. Even the corporate world has jumped into the bandwagon and companies are very active online, posting updates and answering queries.
There are many social networks to choose from; some of the popular ones include Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. As the popularity of social media keeps on spreading all over the world, there have been mixed feelings about these networks and how they impact the youth. So, how does social media affect the youth?
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To answer this question, we have to look at both the positive and negative impacts of social media on the youth. Going with the former first, social media has reduced the world to a global village. Youth can interact with people from other parts of the earth by just a click of the button.
Through these interactions, young people can share ideas, acquire information and also be exposed to many opportunities out there. Secondly, social media give them the avenue and opportunity to make new friends and also allows them to maintain their old friends. With social media, they can trace their former friends by simply typing their names or just indicating the school they attended. Then, the network will do all the dirty work and link them to all people they went to school with.
Apart from just socializing, the social networks have become frontiers for the corporate world to advertise their goods and services. They may either do it directly or pay celebrities to advertise their products for them. Therefore, social media offers an array of opportunities for youth. Popular young people can be hired by corporations to be their brand ambassadors online.
Social media is also an avenue that they can use to showcase their talents. Youth can also run businesses through social media. They may share whatever goods and services they offer to friends and in groups and for a wider coverage, they may sponsor their posts to reach more people.
It is also an avenue where people can express their honest opinions. People who are naturally shy may say whatever they wish in public forums, without the fear of serious repercussions. It is also a cheaper means of communication. What is required is just internet bandwidth and a few keystrokes and users can communicate with virtually anyone on earth. Social media has also made it possible for people to work from anywhere on earth. This is referred to as virtual teaming. Though hired in the same organization, these virtual workgroups are operate from different parts of the earth. However, their communication is done online.
On the flip side, the internet is an unregulated world that has no form of morals or laws to abide to. Young people are exposed to gore images of murder victims, accidents, rape cases or even video footages of gun shootings, violence, verbal outbursts, nudism and explicit sexual content. All these kinds of gore content are in the domain of young people and when consumed for a long time can lead to serious mental breakdowns. For instance, they will start having anxiety attacks and fear of the real world. Whatever they see is registered in their minds and they believe that the world is a bad place, but that is not entirely true. More than 90% of the earth is a safe haven with so many untapped opportunities.
Too much social media also leads to addiction. Society today is full of people seating next to each other, not talking, but just staring at their phones. Youths are spending more time with their social media friends than with their families, friends and loved ones. When they wake up, the first thing they check is their social media accounts. Before they go to sleep, the last thing they check are the updates.
At work, there is reduced productivity because people are busy spending working hours perusing through social media pages. With too many distractions, they cannot fully concentrate on their tasks. Take away social media for a day and the effects will start to kick in. Just like drug addicts, they will be withdrawn and stressed.
It also leads to uncontrollable obsession. People are obsessed with likes and comments and they will do anything to get them on a daily basis. Everything they do, they post them on forums to get some form of approval from strangers. Some people adopt fake personalities to show the world that they made it. They do things that they would never dare do in real life just to impress people. They work tirelessly to buy the latest outfits, eat expensive meals and visit exotic places just for a show. Since they cannot get the same love in real life like they do in social media, they dedicate their lives fully to the social networks. Everything falls apart however when their popularity wanes and they may get into serious psychological problems, such as depression.
These social platforms are also risky and dangerous and may be frontiers of crime. The first crime that comes to mind when we talk about social media is cyberbullying. Most people in social media fake both their personas and personal information. Then there are those who are actually themselves in social media.
Most times than not, the fake ones bully and humiliate the real ones. While many people may argue that it is not that serious and young people are just having fun. The truth of the matter is that some people get affected, especially when the insults revolve around their insecurities such as looks, religion or social status. Furthermore, it is quite easy to trace anyone using their social media information, such as location, school attended and place of work. So, if a criminal wanted to target at someone, the first place he will look for information is social media.
Social platforms also pose serious health hazards for users. Staring for long at the PC may lead to eye problems. Furthermore, avid users maintain a life of inactivity and lack of movement. They are therefore likely to suffer from obesity and are exposed to obesity-related diseases, such as heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. Furthermore, they become socially inept. They cannot start conversations or interact with people.
This can be detrimental to their lives in the future, because to maintain relationships there has to be some form of communication. Also, the networks are full of trolls or individuals who gain fun spreading propaganda and false information. This can drive people into hysteria, if the fake news involves their friends and loved ones.
One major development in the corporate world is that employers monitor their employees’ social media accounts. So, if employees post things that put the company in a bad light, then the company has no option but to relieve them off their duties. People usually assume that the employer tolerates whatever the employees do online. As a result, the company’s image takes a heavy blow whenever its employees misbehave.
Lastly, social media takes away empathy from its users. We see people getting into trouble, but instead of getting help from the people present, their misfortune is recorded and the footages posted on social media. The poster expects likes and comments, while the others have a field day judging, mocking and making fun of the person recorded.
There are instances where people announce the challenges they are going through. It may be sickness or lose of a loved one or a broken relationship. We see people posting their condolences or consolation messages to make the poster feel good. The reality of the matter is that they do not feel any form of remorse.
They just do it out of natural conviction and forget about the incident as soon as they move to the next post. As for the person suffering, he/she does not feel any better. In fact, a person who is physically visited by few friends and loved ones feels much better than a person who gets a million messages on social media with no actual visits.
As Albert Einstein once said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” Social media is a great way to pass time and see whatever is happening around the world. It is very interesting and also very addictive. However, social media is eclipsed by so many challenges, because it is unregulated.
The creators of these networks did not anticipate that their creations would be centers of crime and social decay. Doing away with social media may not be practical or advantageous to society. However, some form of regulation should be put into place to ensure that people responsible for all lewd and violent stuff on the internet are brought to book.
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Best Media Essay Examples
The impact of social media on youth.
1252 words | 5 page(s)
Social media is known as one of the most impacting contemporary innovations. It enables people to share all sorts of personal information, including photos, videos, thoughts, files, and even locations. People and especially young people use social media to improve the educational experience. For instance, sharing books, useful links, videos, photos, or other audio-visual materials helps students to enhance their level of academic achievement. Social media also ensures greater socialization.
In the recent years, globalization has growth to immense proportion due to increased significance of social media among youth. Now people can get in touch with individuals living halfway around the world. Young people are more aware of other cultures even if they have never had a chance to communicate with people of different cultural backgrounds. Such people are more tolerant to minorities. These great benefits are commonly known today since social media has become an indispensable part of people`s being. Although social media brings about many opportunities for youth, it can also make an adversary impact on their development. Social media exposes vulnerable young people to violence or cyber-bullying, making adversary impacts on their health, well-being, and further development.
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Cyber-Bullying Recent research on social media impact has discovered that social networks stimulate aggressive behaviors in students aged between 12-18 years. One of the major concerns regarding social media use is cyber-bullying. This term is relatively new and is referred to as aggressiveness or bullying in social networks. Unlike real-life bullying, cyber-bullying is almost impossible to escape. It has an almost unlimited audience and almost no chances to be forgotten since social media enables sharing materials, leaving comments, and spreading offensive content so quickly that special agencies cannot stop it. Although cyber-bullying is very similar to real-life bullying, its adversary impacts are much stronger and more difficult to cope with.
Among teenagers, cyber-bullying has various forms. On the average, up to 30% of teenagers aged between 11 and 17 years old have undergone cyber-bullying. Rumor spreading makes up approximately 13% of all cases, aggressive or threatening comments constitute 14%, while nasty comments make up almost 32% (Patton, Hong, Ranney, Patel, Kelley, Eschmann, and Washington 2014). Evidently, social media use has not only enabled quicker socialization but also made youth more vulnerable to online victimization.
The rise of this concern has initiated further research in order to define what groups of people are at risk of being exposed to cyber-bullying. Jaffer and Brazeau (2012) specify that the most vulnerable groups are those who do not correspond to the cultural norms of the society. Steckley and Letts (2013) define that culture is a set of beliefs, attitudes, and values practiced by the groups. The majorities create the so-called dominating culture (a culture which imposes its values and behavioral patterns to minorities) may consider alternative practices as a violation of their norms and react aggressively.
In this context, social media platforms can be used to practice cyber-bullying forcing the minority groups to comply with dominating culture. The authors also see social media as a source of socialization which is as equal as the communication with peer groups. So, social media is viewed as a primary platform for cyber-bullying.
Jaffer and Brazeau (2012) enumerate the groups that are at a greater risk of being bullied. Among them, there are those who do not correspond to the cultural norms of the majorities. For instance, the authors state that sexual orientation may underpin cyber-bullying through social media platforms. So, people identifying as gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual belong to the first at-risk group. People with disabilities make the second group. Overweight and obese people are at risk of being cyber-bullied, especially among teenagers. In other words, individuals who are perceived different based on their culture, ethnicity, race, sexual identification, weight, height, appearance, identity, socioeconomic status, or religion, can become the victims of cyber-bullying. The prevailing homophobia, sexism, racism, or other existing forms of marginalization are the reason to initiate cyber-bullying.
Patton, et al. (2014) note that 25% of cyber-bullying takes place in the chat rooms, while 23% occur on the website. In most cases, the victims of cyber-bullying could not identify their harassers. The research shows that social media does not only make a cyber-bullying based on cultural differences a commonplace but also endangers all the young people who do not have appearance or habits corresponding to the existing norms.
Sexual Risk Behaviors Social media has enabled young people to upload and share the photos and videos containing information about their private life. For instance, more and more profiles with photos of young girls demonstrating their sexuality to find romantic relationships are occurring today. Due to lack of parental control and unawareness of the potential consequences, many young girls (aged 13-16 years) add the photos which stress their sexual appearance. This type of behavior increases the risks of being cyber-bullied or exposed to sexual violence both online or in real-life situations (Patton, et al. 2014).
The Relation between Cyber-Bullying and Health, Well-Being, and Suicidal Thoughts. Of course, cyber-bullying taking place in the social network has an adversary psychological impact on young people. Jaffer and Brazeau (2012) state that according to the questionnaire, teenagers who have been exposed to cyber-bullying has less interest in living, feel depressed and think that they are not liked or appreciated by others. Some of the victims even fail to forge the relationships afterward. They feel lonely and helpless and need professional intervention to recover. Moreover, children who have been victims of cyber-bullying learn to use aggression as a main protective mechanism to build relationships with peers. Cyber-bullying at school-aged children or university or college students makes adversary impact on their adult life. Such people are usually reserved and are not able to build a trustful relationship with others.
Those individuals who suffer from long-lasting cyber-bullying, tend to have suicidal thoughts or even make attempts to commit suicide, and many of those attempts are successful. Suicide in Canada remains one of the most serious public health issues. It is the second-leading death cause for Canadian teenagers aged between 15 and 19 years old. Among young Inuit and the youth of Canada`s First Nations, suicide is a desperate problem. However, these are not the only at-risk groups who can commit suicide due to social exclusion. LGBTQ young people, being rejected by their family members, are also at the high risk of intentionally injuring themselves (Jaffer and Brazeau 2012). Cyber-bullying may trigger suicidal attempts among the Canadian vulnerable groups. Due to the increased number of suicidal cases across the country, media has initiated the research to prove the correlation between cyber-bullying and at-risk groups` attempts. The results have proved that cyber-bullying is a contributing factor. The consequences of ignorance can be devastating because schools and universities contain the greatest percentage of at-risk young individuals.
In closing, social media does not only provide young people with educational opportunities but also jeopardizes their well-being. Cyber-bullying is one of the major concerns in Canada. Any teenager labeled as different can be exposed to cyber-bullying. Such type of bullying has far more adversary effects on their well-being than real-life bullying which at least can be escaped. Cyber-bullying has been proved to be a contributing factor in Canadian high suicide rates among school-aged children or university students.
- Jaffer, Mobina, and Patrick Brazeau. 2012. “Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age.”The Senate of Canada.
- Patton, Desmond, et al. 2014. “Social Media as a Vector for Youth Violence: A Review of the Literature.” Computers In Human Behavior, 35: 548-553.
- Steckley, John, and Guy Kirby Letts. 2013. Elements of Sociology: A Critical Canadian Introduction. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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What Is Driving Youth Mental Health Problems? It’s Not Just About Social Media
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Social media is getting a lot of the blame for the sobering state of youth mental health .
And that perception isn’t totally off base. There is research, including from social media companies , showing that the platforms can harm the wellbeing of school age kids.
But it’s oversimplifying the issue to say that social media is the root cause of youth mental health problems, say experts such as Sharon Hoover, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Hoover and others argue that fixating on just one variable, such as social media, as the cause of mental health problems is counterproductive.
In fact, educators and students aren’t even in agreement over what is hurting their mental health. In an October survey by the EdWeek Research Center , teachers, principals, and district leaders listed online bullying as the number one stressor for their students. But students listed schoolwork and homework as the most likely challenge to have a negative impact on their mental health.
In a recent conversation with Education Week, Hoover, who is also a co-director of the National Center for School Mental Health, explained why adults tend to focus on social media-related causes of mental health problems and what other factors educators should be attuned to.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Teens and educators have different opinions on what’s affecting youth mental health. What are we missing in the national dialogue?
It doesn’t mean that one’s right and one is wrong.
People see things through a different lens. Some adults might be more keen to identify something that they didn’t experience as a stressor when they were growing up. There’s a quick assumption that the increase in mental health concerns must be related to something new to this generation.
I don’t think it’s completely unfounded, though. The data does suggest that, yes, there are harms that come with exposure to social media, especially certain types of social media like passive utilization where you’re just scrolling and looking at photos and kind of doing a comparative analysis of your life to others. Versus what teens may be more attuned to, which is active use of social media where they are actually finding the benefits, like communicating with others, building social networks.
Adults may be less attuned to, maybe more so even educators, the stressors related to grades and homework and those academic pressures.
What is the problem with overemphasizing one reason for students’ mental health problems over others?
We end up losing sight of the myriad factors that contribute to youth mental health. Then, as a result, maybe overinvest in solutions in one siloed space that can really shape policies and funding. That’s dangerous if we’re focusing on one area, neglecting the others when we know there’s not just one factor that impacts youth mental health. So that’s one big one.
The other piece is that sometimes when we do this, when we look to blame one thing, social media or homework, we end up with all-or-none solutions that don’t really recognize the complexity of each of these [issues]. So, for social media, there is harm caused by certain types of exposure, but there’s also benefits.
The pandemic was certainly harmful to students’ mental health. What else could be contributing to declining mental health among kids and teens?
So, nutrition and its impact on just physical health, including hormones. Sleep hygiene we know is a huge predictor of mental health and wellbeing, and sleep hygiene is notoriously poor in our adolescents.
Living in poverty, housing insecurity and food insecurity, that obviously impacts mental health. So, if we ignore that and just say it’s all social media, that’s a problem. People will say, ‘well, poverty’s always been there,’ but we know that more young people are exposed to housing and food insecurity than ever before since the pandemic.
There’s also grief and loss. You know, [at least] 140,000 students lost a parent or primary caregiver during COVID . When you’ve lost that primary figure, you’re going be more likely to experience post-traumatic stress and depression and anxiety.
Not to ignore also some of the more systemic issues—what do you want to call it? Political divisiveness or just the tenor of the nation right now. A lot of people will say that’s contributing to an overall decrease in wellbeing among the general population. When you’ve got people who are at odds with each other, it feels like it’s less of a safe climate for people, especially minoritized individuals who are contending with systemic racism. So, lots of factors.
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Impact of under-funding fight against gender-based violence
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As the world marks 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (25 November to 10 December), a new report shows that many countries across Africa are still dealing with the consequences rather than prevention of this type of violence.
The year 2022, was the deadliest for females around the world with nearly 89,000 women and girls killed in gender-related violence, the highest annual number recorded in the past two decades, according to a joint report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women.
The report “Gender-Related Killings of Women and Girls (Femicide /Feminicide) 2022”, gives global estimates of female intimate partner/family-related homicides in 2022. It shows that globally, nearly 89,000 women and girls were killed intentionally in 2022, the highest yearly number recorded in the past two decades.
Moreover, while the overall number of homicides globally began to fall in 2022 after a spike in 2021, the number of female homicides are not decreasing.
“Most killings of women and girls are gender motivated. In 2022, around 48,800 women and girls world-wide were killed by their intimate partners or other family members. This means that, on average, more than 133 women or girls were killed every day by someone in their own family,” says the report.
Yet, only 0.2% of global aid and development funding went to preventing and responding to the violence according to the report .
The report, an analysis by UN Women and partners on the state of funding for the prevention of gender-based violence against women and girls shows that between 2018 and 2023, donors invested on average, about $410 million annually in the prevention of gender-based violence, $2.06 billion in total in the time under review, against the total funding of $204 billion needed annually.
In 2021 alone, the report says, “$14.38 billion was spent on health, $10.12 billion on education, $1.84 billion on social protection and $4.14 billion on environment protection in aid and development.
Women and girls in humanitarian settings are the most affected by this dismal funding because this lack of financial support interferes with the prevention of violence and management of the consequences for affected women and girls who have suffered rape, beatings, forced marriage for young girls, human trafficking for sex work, and female genital mutilation.
In the DRC for example, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) told Africa Renewal that at least 70 women who are survivors of sexual assault present themselves at the health facility near the four camps that the international NGO has set up in Goma. This is a 15% per cent increase in reported cases.
MSF-France’s Executive Director Claire Magone says the money available to them is spent on medical response dealing with the consequences of rape for services and medical interventions such as morning-after pills to prevent pregnancies; preventive treatment of sexually transmitted infections including HIV; and counselling to for the psychological trauma of rape. The rape response can also include surgery depending on the degree of injury.
MSF has reported similar concerns for Sudan and Chad. In some cases, women have reported having been raped more than once in a day.
Ms. Magone called for more funding from partners to offer this critical medical response, but also mental and psychosocial support like treatment and counselling for anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
UNICEF has also reported an increase in the number of women and children experiencing sexual assault in emergency settings.
The UN sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, which co-ordinates the response to gender-based violence in over 30 emergency areas in the world, received only a fifth of the funding it needed to address gender-based violence in 2022.
Countries like Sudan, where violence included mass rapes which the United Nations labelled “extreme”, 80% of the humanitarian response is unfunded, according to data from the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).
The consequence is the deployment of less mobile clinics and essential staff such as midwives and counsellors, especially in the hard-to-reach areas.
The decline in funding also affects the care given to children. Carole Ajema, a gender specialist at the John Hopkins Affiliate Jhpiego said; “Specialists and governments in sub-Saharan Africa did not have programmes for children because of the assumption that children will outgrow the assault; but children are affected by the challenges into their adulthood.”
Ms. Ajema also noted that while health systems have recognised the public health threat that is gender-based violence, healthcare workers who respond to survivors are not trained in medical school on how to offer the service.
This lack of training contributes to low quality service provision for survivors of violence in medical dispensaries and health centres, which are often in rural areas.
The little funding available supports one-stop health centres which have become popular in Africa, but health specialists are concerned that the quality of care that these centres offer may not include all the essential services prescribed.