Surprising new research shows it's all about how you're spending your time

social media

This decade, two trends are on the rise: social media and the number of young people developing mental health problems. It’s too easy to link the two, but new research from the University of Central Florida, which looked into the way social media affects young people’s mental health, has yielded surprising results.

The study, led by Chloe Berryman, analysed the responses of 467 young people who were asked about the amount of time they spent using social media each day; its importance in their lives; and their habits online.

People were then questioned about their mental health, specifically about the level of social anxiety they experience; their relationship with their parents; and about their support structure.

The study found few links between social media usage and mental health problems such as loneliness, a decrease in empathy and social anxiety. “We propose that research focus on the behaviour of individuals, rather than assume media is the root cause of all socio-personal problems,” said Berryman.

So, are fears about social media misplaced? Perhaps.

Considering the findings, Berryman said the results are “generally consistent with other studies which suggests that how people use social media is more critical than the actual time they spend online with regards to their mental health”.