Not a day goes by without some comment alluding to time spent online and social media being the root cause of any problem that young people face. Technology, social media and our relatively new sense of connectedness is not usually portrayed in a positive light.
It’s pretty contradictory as nearly all of our daily business is conducted online. For many people, their jobs or schoolwork relies heavily on being online or connected. Digital communication with friends, family, teachers, colleagues and classmates is very common and sometimes it’s extremely important for us to have access to it. The list could go on: banking, booking travel, applying to jobs, and entertainment are all examples of things we do online.
But, when we ask young people how long they spend online they often make reference to the time they spend as being bad or negative. We’re all guilty of mindless scrolling at times, but does that make it bad?
Time online and mental health
We recently launched the results of My World Survey 2. This report gives us an insight into the lived realities of over 19,000 young people in Ireland. It found that spending over three hours per day online was linked to feeling low or poor mental health.
We must stress the term ‘link’ here, and note this is not the same as a cause. Spending a lot of time online could be because you may be feeling low and are not motivated to do anything else. It could also mean you’re bored and have nothing else to do. Perhaps there aren’t any things going on around that you find interesting but when you’re online there are so many options.
Where are you spending the time?
Spending large amounts of time online has become necessary for a lot of young people in terms of communication, study, work and entertainment. Although those larger quantities of time have been linked to poor mental health, it could also be the case that the individuals were feeling low when surveyed for research. With any study like this, it’s important to consider the varieties of contexts.
You know how much time is the right amount for you. If you feel time spent online interferes with your day-to-day activities, it’s time to look at cutting down. Equally, if the things you do online make you feel bad about yourself, it’s time to take control of this. Take a look at the measures available to help you manage your time.