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Social Media – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Social Media – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Previously, we’ve explored the impact of technology on child mental health, if you missed it, you can find the article here. But, what about social media?

When social media hit our computers and phones in the 2000s, little were we to know what an impact it would have. With over 100million users worldwide, social media was a surprise we perhaps, were not prepared for.

Social media is defined as ‘websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking’. They include; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Pinterest, Periscope, Tumblr, Snapchat, LinkedIn and WhatsApp and the new additions such as BeReal. They allow users to share content, blogs, photos, videos etc. However, is it all fun and games?

In this article, we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

What is the risk?

Social media impacts different people in different ways. Some will sparingly use it, however, for some young people (and adults) they can struggle to see potential pit falls. In one report, it was found:

  • 56.8% of the world’s total population is active on social media.
  • Globally, the average time a person spends on social media a day is 2 hours 25 minutes (145 minutes a day)
  • Over 210 million people worldwide suffer from social media addiction.
  • Heavily social media addicted teenagers spend up to 9 hours on social media every day (per 24 hour period) around 37% of their time.
  • 43% of young people feel very bad if no one likes their social media posts

The Good

Like all things in life, there is a balance of fun and games. Social media offers:

  • Social media encourages interaction
  • We can share photos, highlights and successes
  • It can be a lifeline to child carers, children whose parents live/work away and family who are separated by distance
  • It can help raise awareness, educate and inform
  • It can reduce isolation
  • Opportunities to be creative and share talents
  • It can increase confidence and self-esteem
  • It can be great fun!

The Bad

  • It can reduce social interactions and skills
  • Increased risk of peer pressure and bullying
  • Impacts confidence and self-esteem
  • Links to increased anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating issues and sleep issues
  • Anyone can set up an account and there’s no verification that they are the age/gender/person that they say
  • By tagging your location or home you direct people to your home
  • Adding photos with distinguished marks e.g. school uniforms gives personal information
  • Anything posted can be screen printed or recorded and shared elsewhere on the internet without your consent

The Ugly

  • Social media chooses whether content is suitable, despite reporting content it may not be removed
  • Cyberbullying can be impossible to track to source
  • Whilst ’warnings’ are added, children and teens can access content which is inappropriate or threatening such as #proana, self-harming and false information
  • Social media increases risks of online grooming and trafficking
  • Risk of seeing offensive or traumatic content
  • Risk of access of pro-suicide or self-harm sites
  • Risk of viewing terrorist, cruelty or hate based sites and content
  • Risk of identify theft
  • Children’s profiles can be found by anyone
  • Posting inappropriate content can damage reputations both now and in the future and cause a huge amount of distress & trauma

Warning signs and Symptoms:

Whilst all children and young people are affected differently, some warning signs to be aware of include:

  • Spending more or a lot less time on social media, online, gaming
  • Distant, isolated
  • Upset or angry when using or after using social media or the internet
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to
  • Increased online activity Inc. texts, emails
  • Hypervigilant or anxious behaviours
  • Being frightened of certain people, places or situations
  • Sexualised behaviour, dress, talk
  • Going missing for periods of time
  • Having money or items that you have not funded
  • Talking about ‘older’ friends or boyfriends/girlfriends
  • Reluctance to go to school, extra-curricular activities or see friends
  • Reduced performance at school
  • Reduced confidence
  • Issues with sleeping or eating
  • Angry, anxious or distressed behaviours
  • Isolated or distanced
  • Distracted or withdrawn
  • Asking for money or different items
  • Changes in friendships or loss of friendships


Want to learn more? 

If you want to learn more about emotional literacy you can join our Level 4 training (here) or keep an eye out for our online emotional literacy courses coming soon (here).


© Dandelion Training and Development – All Rights Reserved


Further help 

For more articles about mental health visit – ARTICLES 

To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit – COURSES 

For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit –RESOURCES 

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