As per a new report, while social media leads to stress among some US teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic, they use it to address their mental health problems. The findings of a survey of around 1,500 14 to 22-year-olds conducted by Critical Thinking Media, titled “Dealing with COVID-19: How Youngsters Use Digital Media to Control Their Mental Wellbeing,” were published on Wednesday.
Youth Is Using Social Media To Deal With Mental Health Problems: A Survey
The analysis was done in the fall of last year. Social networking can impact a young person’s mental well-being, including increased exposure to hateful rhetoric such as racism, sexism, and body shaming. During the epidemic, it was discovered that most of them used the same networks and other digital resources to seek help. This can include everything from reaching out to telehealth providers to asking their friends if they have similar symptoms.
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Vicky Rideout, one of the survey’s leading researchers, explained, “Yes, it’s a double-edged sword,” and he said that “As we investigate why and how they use social media, we gain a more detailed understanding of its position in their lifestyles.”
Susannah Fox, another lead researcher, added that this was particularly true during the epidemic. And he states that “As teenagers, we can’t just walk into their lives and look in; we have to hear and allow them time to tell us what they’re doing and thinking.”
The following are some examples of the findings:
- 69 percent of Black teens are exposed to racist material online and on social networks, and they are twice as likely as white youth to have a COVID-19 infection, either personally or inside their families.
- About 74 percent of LGBTQ+ youth are exposed to homophobic information on the internet and social media; 64 percent of LGBTQ+ youth suffer from mild to severe depression (twice as many as non-LGBTQ+ youth), and 19 percent are at threat of alcohol and drug abuse.
- Approximately 67 percent of Latinx teens have experienced discriminatory material online, and 19 percent now have COVID-19 or inside the family, more than twice as many as their white peers. Furthermore, since the beginning of the epidemic, 24% have taken on even more family obligations.
Fox said, “There are very alarming observations,” and he added, “Though we want to shed light on potential solutions, many teenagers are depressed, and we’d like to provide them with the resources they need to live.”
Rideout said that “Even in the right time, young people are just going through stages of life that are both critical developmental and turbulent and now because of the pandemic everything has been turned upside down.” He added that although social media can bring them several tragedies, it also can get them optimism and motivation.
According to the study, 69 percent of teenagers have used wellness apps for anxiety, relaxation, and stress management, and 86 percent of those who interacted remotely with a mental health professional found it beneficial. Although the survey offers valuable information and demonstrates how these young people are committed to improving their mental health, she believes there is still a big step to go.
Fox said, “This is an experience for us to know from them on using technology, not just to make connections, but also to create resiliency,” and added, “It’s a chance to encounter them in their natural environment.”