More than half of 16- to 25-year-olds in Scotland think social media creates an “overwhelming pressure” on young people to succeed, a leading charity has declared.
The tenth Prince’s Trust eBay Youth Index released today found 60 per cent of young people said they believed they were under strain due to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The Youth Index supported by eBay is a national survey that gauges young people’s happiness and confidence across areas from their working life to physical and mental health.
The latest report – based on an online survey of 2,162 young people across the UK aged 16 to 25 – finds the overall index score has flatlined at its lowest level in a decade. The report finds just under half (49 per cent) of youngsters in the age range say comparing their life to others on social media makes them feel “inadequate”.
Kate Still, director of The Prince’s Trust Scotland, said it was “concerning” there had been no improvement in the way young people in Scotland were feeling about their lives and mental health over the past year. She said: “It is disheartening to see that the Youth Index score in Scotland has taken a significant dip.
“Since the Youth Index launched a decade ago, social media has become an overwhelming presence in young people’s lives.
“This research suggests it could be exacerbating what is already an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time. Young people are critical to the future success of our communities and country and can realise their full potential if supported to believe in themselves.
“It is critical that employers, government, charities and wider communities work together to support young people to build their resilience, confidence and self-esteem.”
Published at a time when comparison with peers online seems inescapable for many young people, the report reveals how more than half (52 per cent) of young people in Scotland feel more anxious about their future when comparing themselves to others on social media.
More than a third (38 per cent) of young Scots worry they will never be as happy as the people they see on social media. Almost one in six (15 per cent) “always” or “often” feel “panicked” when seeing the lives of their friends online.
Children’s minister Maree Todd said: “We need to ensure young people are kept safe and well at all times – and that includes when accessing social media. That is why we encourage parents to ensure they are informed about what their children view online.
“Our child internet safety action plan has steps to ensure appropriate training, support and information is in place for young people, parents and teachers. It also sets out our commitment to continue work with social media providers to ensure children are not exposed to harm.”