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Australian Teens Spend a Staggering 1,200 Hours per Year on Social Media, with Damaging Consequences


Social media now dominates many aspects of modern life, particularly among the youth, and as such it is of vital importance that we understand the true scope and possible effects of this cultural and technological phenomenon. To this end the Australian Pathological Society (APS) recently compiled a new report, titled ‘Digital Me’, which sought to identify how adults and teenagers make use of such platforms and explore the effect of social media and digital technology on Australians’ wellbeing.

The report surveyed 1020 adults and 156 teenagers on their use of social media and its subsequent connection to their wellbeing, finding that teenagers throughout Australia are spending as much as 1,200 hours on social media apps and platforms annually, amounting to full 50 days or approximately one-seventh of the year.

It also emerged that adults are nearly as bad, spending around 950 hours each year browsing through popular social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

However it is of course among potentially-impressionable teenagers that this is considered more of an issue, especially as 60% of parents admitted to never monitoring their child’s online activities and communications. While the majority of Australians do report a positive online experience overall, the link between an increased reliance on social media and in increase in cyber bullying, as well as subsequent drops in self-esteem levels, is worrying and cannot be ignored.

Even more alarming is the fact that according to the survey, 15% of teenagers reported being contacted by strangers daily, and nearly 10% said they actively communicated with, or responded to, strangers daily. This alone invites some rather disturbing possibilities.

APS spokeswoman and community psychologist Dr Lyn O'Grady advises that parents take a more active role in the digital lives of their children, whilst being careful not to be overly severe lest their son or daughter act out in rebellion. Instead, open communication and a lead-by-example approach are the recommended methodology.

“Social media is an asset for teens, but they are less able to identify risks and more likely to act impulsively compared to adults,” Dr O'Grady asserts.

“[They] need boundaries, rules and the guidance of parents to help them make good decisions - just as they do offline. If [parents] become too controlling they lose that opportunity to influence.”

Among teens, 29% said they had been a victim of online bullying via social media platforms in the past year, but the survey also revealed that the issue extends beyond children and teens and in fact affects adults too, with one-in-five Australian adults experiencing online bullying in the past year. Furthermore those adult respondents who were classified as heavy mobile phones users, which amounts to 54%, were found to be more likely to use their phones immediately before bed, which research has shown has a negative impact upon sleep. They were also far more likely to check their phones within minutes of waking up.

These individuals are more likely to check their phones while walking, while eating, while in the company of others or even for no discernable reason at all, and this constant state of connectivity has been linked to bullying, trolling, and low self-esteem among adults just as it has with teens.

Among adults the worst culprit in terms of damage to self-esteem appears to be Instagram; 21% of Instagram users were classified as having low self-esteem, as compared to 13% of non-users. Overall, heavy mobile phone users in both age groups admitted that they felt an increased pressure to look good online, and this is likely the source of many of the aforementioned issues.



Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @Songbird_Sam

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Australian Teens Spend a Staggering 1,200 Hours per Year on Social Media, with Damaging Consequences Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Friday, November 17, 2017 Rating: 5

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