As concerns over the negative impacts of social media grow, young people appear to be taking a lead in cutting back on time spent online, and even deleting apps they feel most worried about.

Connected Kids 2019, a new report from MediaCom UK, based on a survey drawing data from 1,200 young people aged eight to 19, finds that half of pre-teens and teens say they spend too long interacting with friends on social media, and nearly 20% of young people have deleted social media apps.

Some 40% say they often compare themselves to others on social media, and a further third (36%) of those surveyed said they worry about receiving negative or hurtful comments; this compares to only 24% of adults who worry about the number of likes they receive on posts.

Even so, it’s clear that for many the experience of social media verges on the addictive, with more than half (52%) of those quizzed saying they feel the need to constantly check for updates.

Those who do worry about social media are increasingly doing something about it, though – 18% said they had deleted some social media apps, and 17% had cut down on their screen time.

Despite concerns over the negative aspects of online interaction, UK youngsters believe it generates plenty of positives. More than half (59%) say social media helps them to avoid missing out, and a further 47% say the use social media to feel included.

Pauline Robson, Managing Partner at MediaCom UK observed that the relationship young people have with social media is complex.

“They love the fact that it can help connect them with their friends and family, but the pressure they feel to portray a certain lifestyle or online persona is enormous; it means they are more anxious about their online activity and more likely to look for ways to limit their social media use,” she said.

“According to the NHS, mental health issues are rising among children and teens, and the evidence increasingly suggests that social media plays a role in this,” she added. “Many teens may well be using social platforms … in positive ways, but we can’t ignore the damage that can be done online.”

Creating a healthy online environment is partly the responsibility of any brand that reaches out to young people through social media, Robson said.

“Failure to take responsibility will only see more children switch off from social media and inevitably remove the platforms that they feel are not adding to their online experience,” she added.

Sourced from MediaCom