A new study finds social media has made one in five Canadians lose sleep and become more sedentary, according to a new study by Statistics Canada drawing on the 2018 Canadian Internet Use Survey.
Canadians are among the heaviest users of social media in the world with usage widespread among all age groups. Ninety per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 34, 80 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 34 and 60 per cent of Canadians aged 50 to 64 used social media in 2018. More than 50 per cent of those aged 15 to 24 use three or more accounts.
The survey studied six outcomes associated with social media use: lost sleep, trouble concentrating on tasks or activities, less physical activity, feeling anxious or depressed, feeling envious of the lives of others, and feeling frustrated or angry.
Looking at all social media users aged 15 to 64, around one-fifth said they had lost sleep (19 per cent), exercised less (22 per cent), or had trouble concentrating on tasks or activities (18 per cent) as a result of their social media use during the last 12 months. Around one in eight users (12 to 14 per cent) reported feeling anxious or depressed, frustrated or angry, or envious of the lives of others.
Correlating specific age groups with specific outcomes, respondents aged 15 to 14 appear especially prone to losing sleep and struggling to concentrate with almost half of all social media users aged 15 to 19 reporting loss of sleep related to social media use.
“Whether this reflects a lack of self-regulation, the amount of sleep needed by adolescents, or other factors, cannot be assessed given the information available from the (survey),” the study reads. “Still, the prevalence of these two outcomes – particularly among adolescents – is consistent with the literature.”
The literature also finds social media use has a stronger correlation with low psychological well-being among adolescent females than males with one study finding that depressive symptoms were stronger for 14-year-old girls using social media than boys, reflecting in part gender differences in other risk factors such as disrupted sleep, low self-esteem, poor body image, and online harassment.
Looking at other age groups, individuals under the age of 30 reported higher cases of anxiety or depression than individuals aged 35 to 49. Reports of feeling envious of the lives of others were also more prevalent among those under 35.
“One implication is that negative outcomes attributed to social media use are not limited to those experienced by adolescents, but are also evident among individuals in their twenties and early thirties,” it reads.
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