The evolution of Social Media
Social media has flourished worldwide to such a degree that it is now impossible to not locate a person on the Internet. In the early days of social media, it was simply an interactive tool to aid people to socialize online despite their busy lives. However, currently, social media has become a source of stress for the young. People post about their daily life updating their friends and families on their activities, their lifestyle and their travel experiences. This has led to a sense of overwhelming depression due to the constant comparison of lifestyles with their colleagues or their peers.
In addition to the stress of having to live an active eventful lifestyle, social media has also limited the normal social direct personal interaction. With people relying on tools such as Facebook, tinder, Viber, Whatsapp and Messenger, the era of direct communication has come to an end. The combination of stress and loneliness has increased anxiety among the younger populations.
The impact of Social Media on the Youth Of The UK
Currently, in the UK alone, a large percentage of youth suffer from anxiety and depression with most of them seeing no point in living. According to research, the pressure from social media has added to the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy in the general population.
In a survey done in 2009, less than 10 % of people aged between 16-25 years old agreed that life is worth living. This figure shows that almost 90% of the youth in the UK are suffering from some levels of depression. Reports from 2018 say that this number has progressed slightly now to 18% of the youth seeing life as worthwhile.
Among the rest, almost 25% lack a sense of purpose in their life as per the survey. The YouGov survey conducted by Prince’s Trust had a total of 2,612 participants.
The decline in healthy relationships with friends and family has severely decreased youth happiness over the last few years. Most youths deal with emotional health issues, and their anxiety is not related to money or accommodation issues, which have remained fairly stable.
The survey found that half of the youths on social media were suffering from varying levels of anxiety as they compared themselves on social networking sites and social apps such as Instagram. More than half of the youth had a similar opinion, saying that social media puts constant pressure on them to become successful.
This depressing thoughts faced by the youths comes at a time when suicide rates among young people are at an all-time high. Official statistics report that suicides occur now at the rate of 5 in 100.000 teenagers in England alone. This number is significantly higher in comparison to the number in 2010, which was 3 in 100,000 then.
“Social media has become omnipresent in the lives of young people and this research suggests it is exacerbating what is already uncertain and emotionally turbulent time,” said Nick Stace, UK chief executive of The Prince’s Trust. “Young people are critical to the future success of this country, but they’ll only realize their full potential if they believe in themselves and define success in their own terms. It is, therefore, a moral and economic imperative that employers, government, charities, and wider communities put the needs of young people center stage.”
However, a few young people have some positive outlook regarding social media. They view it as a tool to voice their thoughts and opinions.
The Prince’s Trust happiness and confidence index have shown a decline from 73 in 2009 to 69 in 2018.