Users fear social media is making them ill, but they still can't stop

Some 90 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds now own a smartphone 

Rebecca Flood
Sunday 26 February 2017 18:56
Comments

Nearly half of millennials fear their addiction to social media is having a negative effect on their mental and physical health.

A new survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found about 90 per cent of people aged 18-29 were using social media, up from just 12 per cent in 2005.

The APA report said: “Technology has improved life for many Americans, and nearly half of this country’s adults say they can’t imagine life without their smartphones.

“The survey showed, nearly all adults (99 per cent) own at least one electronic device (including a television). Almost nine in 10 (86 per cent) own a computer, 74 per cent own an internet-connected smartphone and 55 per cent own a tablet.

“At the same time, numerous studies have described consequences of technology use, including negative impacts on physical and mental health.”

Of the social media platforms, Facebook was the most frequently visited with 79 per cent on adults using it last year.

In second place was Instagram with 32 per cent, then Pinterest and LinkedIn, both on 29 per cent, and Twitter with 24 per cent.

Many millennials, defined as those aged between 18 and 37, were concerned about how much time they were spending on social media.

“Almost half (48 per cent) worry about the negative effects of social media on their physical and mental health," the report said.

The researchers also identified a group of people so attached to their gadgets that they were constantly or often checking their emails, texts or social media accounts.

APA said: “More than a decade after the emergence of smartphones, Facebook and Twitter, a profile is emerging of the 'constant checker'. Such avid technology and social media use has paved the way for the 'constant checker', those who constantly check their emails, texts or social media accounts.”

These ‘constant checkers’ reported higher stress levels than their less-connected peers.

On a 10-point scale, with one being little or no stress and 10 being a great deal of stress, this group reported overall stress levels of 5.3 compared to an average of 4.4.

The report said: “For some, constant checking itself can be a stressful act. Constant checkers are more likely to say that constantly checking devices is a stressful aspect of technology, compared to non-constant checkers (29 per cent vs. 24 per cent, respectively).”

The turbulent political climate in America, following Donald Trump’s shock victory in the US presidential election in November, was cited as a worrying factor online.

Some 42 per cent of ‘constant checkers’ reported the political and cultural discussions on social media caused them stress, compared to 33 per cent of non-constant checkers.

Some 65 per cent of Americans agreed that periodically “unplugging” or taking a “digital detox” was important.

Despite the majority wanting to switch-off, the report added: “Only 28 per cent of those agree about the important of a detox actually report doing so.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in