How does social media impact mental well-being?

Created on 10 November, 2023Marketing • 352 views • 3 minutes read

Examining age-related sensitivities in the influence of social media on young people.

Young people are increasingly experiencing pressure on their mental well-being, and the main culprit seems to be endless scrolling, liking, commenting, and messaging on social media. However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that social media has a negative impact on the mental well-being of young people. That is why scientific research is shifting more towards the question: how do social media influence mental well-being? One of the answers seems to lie in examining the relationship between social media and mental well-being from a developmental perspective. In this approach, the developmental stage of adolescence (10 to 24 years) is considered a crucial period in which both biological and cognitive and social changes occur. But are young people truly more susceptible to the influence of social media than other age groups? And if so, are they sensitive throughout this entire developmental stage, or are there differences between periods? Are there also noticeable differences between boys and girls? In this blog, you can read more about it.

What is the topic of this blog? This blog discusses the impact of the developmental phase of adolescence on the use of social media. It also explores the relationship between age, gender differences, and sensitivity to social media. Additionally, it examines the role of marketers and communication professionals in creating a positive online environment.

Research has shown that during adolescence, young people are particularly susceptible to social development, self-perception, and social interaction (biological developments). At the same time, there are significant cognitive developments that occur during this period, especially in the areas of emotional regulation and planning. These changes often coincide with major social changes and life events, such as transitioning from high school to further education. All of these changes increase the influence of the social environment and make young people more aware of how they are perceived by peers and others. Researchers believe that young people may be more sensitive to the influence of social media compared to other age groups. To investigate this further, and to explore potential age and gender differences, a seven-year-long study was conducted with over 70,000 participants aged 10 to 80 years. Results: The results of the study reveal that the relationship between social media and life satisfaction varies significantly across different age groups. Although this relationship fluctuates to some extent throughout a person's life, for example, being more negative for men aged 26-29 than for men aged 22-25, adolescence is indeed characterized by a strong negative impact of social media on mental well-being. Interestingly, this relationship is not constant throughout the entire adolescent period. There are specific phases during which young people are more susceptible to the effects of social media. This difference is not only dependent on age but also on gender.

Age Differences: Younger adolescents (10-15 years) exhibit a linear relationship between social media use and their well-being, meaning that the more they use social media, the less satisfied they are with their lives. On the other hand, older adolescents (16-21 years) show a "inverted U-shaped curve" (also known as the "Goldilocks hypothsis"), which implies that those who report using very little or very high amounts of social media report lower life satisfaction compared to those who have moderate usage. Gender Differences: The results also highlight noticeable differences between boys and girls. Girls are particularly sensitive to the impact of social media between the ages of 11 and 13. As they spend more time on social media, their life satisfaction decreases. In contrast, boys show this sensitivity at the age of 19. In conclusion, the research shows that the relationship between social media and life satisfaction varies across different age groups. Adolescence is a period where social media can have a particularly negative impact on mental well-being. There are also age and gender differences in this relationship, further emphasizing the need for further research in this area.

Understanding the link between the stages of brain development and the use of social media is essential in comprehending how young people react to social media. These insights highlight the need for marketers and communication professionals to consider these specific age-related sensitivities in order to ensure responsible communication. By understanding when social media has the most negative impact on the well-being of young people, one can communicate more effectively and ethically, and work towards creating a positive online environment for them.