Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Social Media Found to Be More Helpful to Children Today Than in 2022

While U.S. adults remain divided on the mental health impacts of social media, more parents view social media as helpful to their children’s mental health than they did two years ago. These are some of the findings from APA’s latest Healthy Minds Monthly Poll released today.

For example, 31% of parents in 2024 said they believe that social media has helped their child’s mental health, up from 24% in 2022; 31% of parents today also believe social media has helped their child’s self-esteem, up from 23% in 2022. These changes reflect fewer parents viewing social media as a neutral influence, as the number of parents who said social media hurts their child’s mental health has remained steady at 20% between 2022 and 2024.

This new poll also found changing perceptions of social media’s impact on society at large, with fewer respondents in 2024 saying that social media is hurting political or civil discourse compared with 2022.

“Social media is a ubiquitous technology, and our understanding of the harm it can cause is shifting,” said APA President Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A., in a news release. “Ultimately our personal use of social media is similar to the interaction we have with any technology, which is to say that we have to be mindful of its impact on our mood, thoughts, and feelings. Helping children and adolescents learn and practice mindfulness can give them skills to manage their journeys in social media.”

This year’s poll also showed that many respondents use social media to search for and/or share information on mental health. Younger adults were especially likely to use social media for such purposes; for example, 77% of 18- to 34-year-olds had used social media to find mental health information, compared with only 23% of adults ages 65 or older.

“It is no surprise that particularly younger Americans are listening and joining the social media conversation on mental health,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., in the release. “In many ways, that is a very healthy sign. However, those of us in the mental health and medical fields must work to ensure that accurate information is available and that people can reach a doctor or other mental health clinician if they aren’t feeling well.”

This year’s poll was fielded by Morning Consult on behalf of APA between March 11 and 14 and included responses from 2,204 adults. The 2022 poll was fielded January 19 and 20, 2022, among a sample of 2,210 adults.

To read more on the impacts of social media, see the latest Psychiatric News special report,“Is Social Media Misuse a Bad Habit or Harmful Addiction?

(Image: Getty Images/iStock/Robert Way)

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