Almost half (48%) of those who spent more than three hours a night on Facebook and Twitter were unhappy with their looks, according to the survey of 3,500 10- to 15-year-olds, carried out as part of a longitudinal study by the University of Essex.
This was compared to 18% of children in the same age group who didn’t go on social media networking sites.
Commenting on the findings, Nick Harrop, campaigns manager at YoungMinds told The Huffington Post UK: “Social media puts pressure on teenagers to live their lives in the public domain, to present a personal ‘brand’ from a young age, and to seek reassurance in the form of likes and shares.
“Cyberbullying is also a fact of life for many young people.”
The figures are drawn from a survey of 40,000 UK households - ‘Understanding Society’ - supported by the Government. Alongside the adult surveys were questionnaires for children, aged 10 to 15, looking specifically at their wellbeing.
Responses from the children’s questionnaires also found 44% of children who are online for more than three hours, fought with their parents more than once a week.
Children who frequently went on social media were twice as likely to admit they misbehaved in class. And 17% of the heavy social media users said they were bullied “a lot” or “quite a lot”, compared to 11% of non-users.
The researchers noted one positive finding from heavy social media users. They said 90% of children who used social media a lot said they wanted to go to university, compared to 82% of children who never used social media.
Harrop added: “It’s important to remember that the online world also offers huge social and emotional benefits, and that many young people with mental health conditions go online to reach out for support.”
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