Social media particularly damaging to mental health of Gen Zers, says study | Social media

New data on the impact of social media use on mental health across the world shows just how damaging it is to Gen Zers.

The study, conducted by the McKinsey Health Institute, reported: “Gen Zers, on average, are more likely than other generations to cite negative feelings about social media.”

Some 42,000 respondents in 26 countries across continents were surveyed about the four dimensions of health: mental, physical, social and spiritual. Gen Zers ranked worst across all of these categories.

Millennials were next, followed by Gen Xers and baby boomers. One in seven baby boomers said their mental health has declined over the past three years, compared with one in four Gen Z respondents.

Although millennials reported being more active on social media – 32% said they posted at least once a day – Gen Z spends the most amount of time on the apps, but more passively. The study shows that 35% of Gen Z respondents spend over two hours on social media daily compared with 24% of millennials and 14% of baby boomers.

Studies have shown that passive social media use, like endlessly scrolling on TikTok or Instagram, could be linked with declines in wellbeing over time. The negative impact of social media increases substantially for younger ages overall.

At 21%, female Gen Zers, in particular, were almost twice as likely to report poor mental health when compared with their male counterparts, 13% of whom reported poor mental health.

A higher portion of female Gen Zers reported poor or distorted body image and self-confidence as negative impacts of social media. The American Psychological Association found “reducing social media use significantly improves body image in teens and young adults”.

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But social media is not all bad – respondents across all generations overwhelmingly reported positive impacts of social media when it comes to self-expression and social connectivity.

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