Young people in Asia Pacific say social media has been both a curse and a blessing during the time of COVID-19.

On the plus side, the 18- to 24-year-olds of Generation Z say that access to social media and being able interact with friends and family has been helpful – with nearly a quarter (24%) saying social media has helped boost their mood and sense of wellbeing; but over a third (34%) feel it has had a bad effect.

The findings come from a study by Sandpiper Communications, which surveyed 1,226 Gen Zs across Asia Pacific – covering Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore – to better understand how COVID-19 has affected the mental wellbeing of this age group.

‘The Brace Face of Gen Z’ reveals that young people have been deeply impacted by the crisis in a number of ways. More than 70% say they are currently going through higher levels of stress because of COVID-19 and 57% say their mental wellbeing has declined. On top of this, 79% say they face “stress” monthly or more often, with 28% saying they feel this way at least every week and 11% say this happens daily.

But only 41% of this young age group say they feel comfortable talking about their mental health.

For those who say social media has been helpful, the majority (69%) say this is because it allows them to connect with friends and family; and 66% say it has also acted as a distraction and a useful tool to pass the time: 66% mentioned increased boredom as a problem during the crisis.

For those who have a positive attitude towards social media, 59% say it is a source of news for them.

But it is this flow of news and information that has become a double-edged sword. The number of negative stories is cited by 61% as the main reason why social media has had a negative impact on their lives during the pandemic.

And almost two-in-five (38%) said social media has created a feeling that they need to be constantly “busy”, even though they feel negative about the situation.

Despite the increased pressures and stress caused by the impact of the pandemic, the research shows Gen Z is a resilient group, and many are still eager to take positive steps towards their future, with many seeking professional support when it’s needed.

When they were asked how the pandemic had changed their plans for the future, almost half (46%) said they had increased their focus on savings, and 30% said they had increased their commitment to studying and decided to learn a new skill during the period.

Sourced from Sandpiper; additional content by WARC staff