by Dayana Del Puerto | 1st Jan 2015
Social media is increasingly damaging young people’s mental health and self-esteem, with higher risks over the summer holidays, national helpline warns.
More teenagers are suffering from mental health problems as they use social media more, a recent study from the Office for National Statistics has reported, and, with more free time to fill, young people are more susceptible to the harmful effects of social media over summer, warns Meic, the national helpline for children and young people in Wales.
Along with cyberbullying, surveys by both Glasgow University and the National Citizen Service (NCS) have indicated that the pressure of both presenting oneself a certain way online and making oneself constantly available so as to not miss out is taking its toll on young people.
Meic is aiming to tackle the effect of social media on young people as part of its new advice and awareness online campaign against peer pressure over the summer, which includes so-called fear of missing out (FOMO), body image, relationships, drinking, and more.
Head of Meic, Stephanie Hoffman, says, “It can be difficult to remember the difference between what people present online and what is going on the rest of the time, and the expectations this creates for young people can be very harmful, particularly over the holiday/festival season, so that’s why we’re targeting summer with our campaign.”
Alys, a young person from Cardiff, says, “Social media can be really damaging because it makes you compare your own life to others’. For me, it can make me feel bad or down about my own life when I see my friends doing exciting things.”
Furthermore, teenage girls, as the higher percentage of social media users, are not only more likely to be unhappy with their appearance but are also more likely to turn to social media when anxious or worried than to their parents, according to the NCS.
Ms Hoffman says, “Social media often isn’t well-equipped to help these young people, which is why Meic is here to give them the support and advice they need when they feel they can’t speak to anyone.”
Children and young people in Wales up to the age of 25 can contact Meic 8am to midnight, 365 days of the year by instant message, text, call or email.
Notes for Editors:
Meic staff available for interview, upon request.
Meic is the information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people aged 0-25 in Wales, open 365 days a year. Young people can contact Meic by phone (080880 23456), text (84001), instant message (www.meic.cymru) or email (email@example.com) between 8am and midnight.