[ New technologies and young people. Anything to worry about? ]

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the impact of personal technology and social media on young people. There were not always carefully conducted social studies, and many of them were only meant to arouse sensation. At the same time, a thorough scientific discussion has been going on for years. Experts ask whether technology is really doing harm to young people. If so, how big is it? Do new technologies only have a negative impact on modern generations?

Age matters

A British survey carried out on a large group of respondents showed that in the lives of adolescents there are two periods in which they are most exposed to danger online and to excessive use of new technologies and social platforms.

The first time it occurs during adolescence and the second time is around the age of 19. It was also specified that in teen girls this period lasts from 11 to 13 years of age, and in teen boys – from 14 to 15 years of age. The second sensitive time for both sexes is the period of entering adulthood, defined in the study by the age of 18–19 years.

Based on over 84 thousand surveys in the UK, researchers found that social media use is the most intense and the assessment of life satisfaction deteriorates during these developmental moments.

Does social media lower your well-being?

The conclusions above may not be optimistic at the first sight. On the other hand, the reported British study also found that the link between social media and teenagers’ well-being is quite weak, and a direct link between social media and well-being has not been clearly established.

Thus, it confirmed what had already been summarized in other scientific studies. For example, Jeff Hancock, a behavioral psychologist at Stanford University, in his professional activity focused on conducting a meta-analysis of 226 studies in this field. The main conclusion from his work is: “there are hundreds of studies on this subject, almost all of them prove little or negligible impact” (technology on well-being – author’s note). While social media does not have a significant impact on most teenagers, a small group may feel its negative impact significantly. However, there are no universal and reliable standards or guidelines that would predict such a risk for an individual child.

Is the internet and social media really only evil?

The research carried out in Great Britain was summed up by experts’ opinions. They point out that in the context of social media and children, the narrative in the vast majority of cases exaggerates the damage caused by new technologies and at the same time ignores the potential benefits.

According to the researchers, apart from possible risk, social media also provides many positive values. This includes support, building relationships, developing creativity or learning new skills.

These are the benefits that scientists say are all too often overlooked. Sometimes we focus so much on the risks and possible dangers of intensive digital media use that we forget about all the great opportunities that technology has to offer. Also for the youngest users.