Social media puts ‘overwhelming pressure’ on young people

The ‘panic’ that some young people feel when looking at friends’ profiles on social media has been revealed in a report

Henry Hepburn

Social media makes many young people feel 'panicked', according to new research

More than half of 16- to 25-year-olds in Scotland think social media creates an “overwhelming pressure” on young people, according to a youth charity.

In the Prince’s Trust eBay Youth Index, published today, 60 per cent of young people surveyed in Scotland said that they believe social media creates “overwhelming pressure” to succeed, while 49 per cent said that comparing their lives to those of friends on social media made them feel “inadequate”. 

More than a third worried that they will never be as happy as the people they see on social media, and almost one in six “always” or “often” felet “panicked” when seeing the lives of their friends online.

The report also says that 40 per cent of young people in Scotland feel more confident online than they do in person. 

The Youth Index, supported by eBay, is a UK-wide survey that gauges young people’s happiness and confidence across a range of areas from their working life to physical and mental health.

The impact of social media

These figures come in parallel with findings that young Scots' confidence in their emotional health has dropped.

Kate Still, director of The Prince’s Trust Scotland, said: “It is concerning that over the past 12 months there has been no improvement in the way young people in Scotland and across the UK are feeling about their lives and mental health.”

She added: “Since the Youth Index launched a decade ago, social media has become an overwhelming presence in young people’s lives. This research suggests it could be exacerbating what is already an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time.”

The trust says that the effects of social media on young people are still unclear and that there appear to be some positives. Almost a third of young Scots, for example, said that social media made them feel like they can influence positive change and have a voice for their generation.

In October, the EIS teaching union warned that social media would be “catastrophic” for many teachers unless more is done to stop “bullying” by parents who monitor schools using new technology.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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