Social media engagement can benefit children, but overexposure is a slippery slope, suggest the findings of a new study.
The report, published by the Education Policy Institute, found that moderate use of social media can possess “a beneficial impact on wellbeing.”
However, “extreme internet users”—classified as those spending more than six hours online per day—face increased risk of cyber bullying and exposure to harmful content. And the number of extreme users is climbing; in the UK, for example, more than one-third of teenagers fall under this category.
According to the study, extreme users were nearly three times as likely to be cyber bullied than moderate users. But the report suggests that simply limiting internet time may be counterproductive. Instead, it is “vital” to equip teens with sufficient digital skills to build resilience and awareness of the risks.
The report also points out that while there is a negative link between excessive social media use and mental wellbeing, it has not yet been proven that the internet use itself is the direct cause. It’s important, then, not to restrict internet usage, but to empower youth to navigate the internet in a safe and healthy way. After all, social media is not going anywhere any time soon, so fighting it is a futile battle.