It’s no secret that babies are pretty much born with an iPhone in their hands these days, and it always leaves us wondering how good all these gadgets are for kids’ well-being.
Well, not good at all, as it turns out.
Economists at the University of Sheffield recently evaluated a series of surveys conducted in the U.K. over a four-year period to determine if social media positively or negatively children between the ages of 10 and 15.
The surveys asked kids if they were active on social networks and, if so, how many hours they spent chatting or interacting with friends during any given day. They also asked kids how happy they were in six areas: school work, appearance, family, friends, school attended, and life as a whole
The findings were pretty astonishing.
The more time kids spent on social media, the less happy they were in five of the areas evaluated. Most importantly, they were less happy with life overall.
Social media negatively impacts girls more than boys, especially when it comes to the school they attend and their appearance. One scroll through your Instagram feed should give a pretty clear indication why.
The only aspect of life that wasn’t negatively affected was how children felt about their friends. And even then, it wasn’t a significantly positive effect either.
So, what’s behind the gloom? The researchers proposed three theories to explain why children who use social media more are generally less upbeat about their outlook on life: social comparison, cyberbullying, and “finite resources.”
As Quartz explains, “spending three hours in online communities means three hours less time spent doing activities that might have a better effect on wellbeing and self-esteem, like playing sports or hanging out with friends in real life.”