Posted: February 10th, 2022

How Social Media Affect Mental health of the Youth

How Social Media Affect Mental health of the Youth


In the past two decades, digital technologies have become a common feature in the lives of the youth. Screen exposure starts early in life for many children. Studies have discovered that US children under the age of 2 years spend an average of 42 minutes with screen media in a day (Rideout, 2017). As such, by the time the children reaches the youth stage, many are completely engrossed in the world of computers, smartphones, and social media. The current national statistics state that approximately 95% of youths in the age bracket of 13 to 18 may have contact with smartphones, and about 88 per cent have access to laptops and desktops at their homes (Rideout, 2017). Therefore, most of the youths are frequently online. The prevalence of modern media has developed an increasingly complex milieu for the parents, adolescents, policymakers, and health care providers to navigate. The occurrence of social media has presented significant opportunities and benefits and introduced new risks and challenges for youth mental health.
This research intends to answer the question of how social media has impacted the mental health of the youth in the modern world. It will explore why and when mental health is impacted when a youth is highly exposed to social media. The study is important as it will help the parents, teachers, health care providers, and even the policymakers understand how social media affects the youth’s mental health. It will determine whether the youths are positively or negatively affected when exposed to social media. Also, help them understand the age group which is more prevalent in mental health issues when exposed to social media. As a result, the parents and teachers to understand how to manage their children at a tender age and whether to reduce or increase social media exposure at tender ages of the children.
Literature review
Humans are social beings that need the company of others to advance in life. Therefore, being socially connected with others can reduce anxiety, sadness and stress. Lack of social connection may result in severe mental health risks. Social media is one way in the modern world that creates a connection between people. Berryman, Ferguson, and Negy (2018) describes mental health as a state of well-being whereby individuals understand their capabilities, work well, tackle their daily challenges, and participate positively in enhancing the lives of their community. Currently, there is an ongoing debate concerning the negative impacts and the benefits of social media on mental health. One essential element in protecting humans mental health is a social network. It ensures connection and interaction with people from different parts of the world. According to Coyne et al. (2020), both the quality and quantity of social relations significantly impact health behaviour, mortality risk, mental health, and physical health. The Displaced Behavioral Theory states that individuals who spend more time inactive behaviours like social media use have minimal time for physical interaction. Spending more time on inactive behaviours have been protective against mental issues (Escobar-Viera, 2018). Therefore, social media has some positive impacts on human’s mental health.
Besides, studies have proven that the use of social media impacts mental health by affecting how individuals maintain, view, and relate with their social networks. They have confirmed that prolonged social media use may result in adverse signs of stress, anxiety, and depression. Also, social media may develop a lot of pressure creating the notion that others want to be popular as other people. Thus, despite having many positive effects, such as improving communication skills and enhancing social interaction, social media has adverse effects on the youth’s mental health. Overuse of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube poses risks of depression, anxiety, and stress to an individual.
Study Hypothesis
1. Prolonged use of social media has negative effects on the mental minds of the youths.
2. Overuse of social media enhances anxiety, stress, and depression.
3. Females using social media have more adverse effects than males.
4. The negative effects of social media on the youth’s mental health outweigh the positive effects.
The research will use a quantitative approach in collecting all the required data. The experimental designs will be mainly based on the survey, which involves interviewing the respondents to collect primary data. Questionnaires will also be issued to the respondents to determine the length of time they have been spending on social media platforms. Also, the interview and questionnaire questions will determine how respondents are affected by social media use.
The study participants will be randomly selected from families with children between the ages of 13 and 18 years. The study sample size will be 200 youths. Where 60% (120) of the study population will be female, and the remaining 40% (80) will be males. The study will employ a simple random sampling technique in the selection of its respondents. The technique will be adopted as it minimizes unconscious bias that may be reflected in the collected data. A simple random sampling technique ensures unbiased estimations to be developed as there is an equal chance of selection. Participants will be divided into two groups. The first group will have 140 participants and the second group 60 participants. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to some of the first groups with 140 respondents. The questionnaires were also divided into two sections, where the first section comprised the question on the demographic information and the second section included free choice questions. The free choice questions had a construct like the structure of social media usage, daily activities on social media platforms, time spent on social media, and health-related issues like anxiety, sleeping, and depression they may experience while using social networking sites. The second group of respondents were interviewed. The study involved a semi-structured interview in determining the time the participants always spend on social media and how social media use impacts their well-being. Semi-structured interview questions were used to allow respondents to explain their answers. Also, it allows the interviewer to know and understand the exact feelings of the respondents. The study will adopt three different statistical tools; Anova, Crosstabs, and Correlation and the analysis will be conducted using Excel and SPSS software.
Dependable Variable
The dependent variable in research is the variable being measured and tested. It always depends on the independent variable. In our study, the dependent variable will be time used in the social media platforms. The participants were to respond in both the interview and questionnaires on how much time they spend in a typical day when using social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook. The time spent on social media platforms was assessed simply by asking, “How much time do you always spend on social media per day?” The responses varied between participants, with the majority stating that they always spend an average of 8 hours on social media per day. Social media platforms are a connection and interaction tool in the modern world; many youths spend most of their time in it on a typical day. The time spent in social media is a dependent variable as it determines the degree of impact posed on an individual. It determines the level of anxiety, stress, and depression.
Independent Variable
The independent variable is the variable that is manipulated or changed to directly affect the dependent variable. In the study, the independent variables will the things like depression, stress, and anxiety. The participants acted to the questions related to depression by rating the degree to which they always feel depressed when using social media. The questions were rated on a scale of one to four. For instance, I felt that something unusual would happen; I felt lonely, like I didn’t have any friends and many others. Higher scores portrayed greater symptoms of depression. Also, anxiety was another independent variable that was measured in the study. Anxiety will be evaluated using the six-item simplified anxiety disorder subscale obtained from the Child Anxiety Inventory of Spence. Respondents answered anxiety questions using a four-point Likert scale ranging from zero to five, with higher scores portraying greater anxiety levels. An example of an anxiety question include I worry so much about things, or my heart beats increase when I have a problem. Higher scores indicate high levels of anxiety when using social media platforms.
Control Variable
A control Variable is anything that remains constant in research. It is a variable that could influence the outcome but is not of interest to the objectives of the study. Control variables increase the study’s internal validity by minimizing the effect of confounding and other irrelevant variables. The control will help in creating a causal relationship or correlation between the variables of interest. In this study, the control variable will be any factor that is not in the research objective but may result in mental health issues.
Reliability and Validity of Variables
Validity and reliability are used to assess the research quality. They show how well a technique or a method measures something. Reliability involves the consistency of measure, while validity is concerned with the accuracy of measure. Reliability will be determined when the responses from different participants in the questionnaire portray some form of consistency. Validity is determined when the responses given correlates (Torre & Picho, 2016). Also, consistency will be determined when all the aspects in the questionnaire and interview questions reflect the same basic concept. As a result, the individual scores on those elements should be somehow connected. For instance, the respondents who agree prolonged use of social media has a negative impact on youths’ mental health should give a correlated reason supporting their answers. If there is no correlation in the responses of different participants, then the scale used in measurement would be invalid. When there is correlation and consistency between the collected data, then the study is internally validated.
Study Limitations
There are many limitations to the study. One of the limitations was the threats to internal validity. The first threat is history. There are many different factors that affect the result. For instance, there are many unrelated events that may impact the mental health of a youth apart from social media. For example, drug misuse is one cause of mental disorders. Therefore, the respondent may have been using drugs; as such, distress, anxiety, and stress may have been caused by drugs and not social media. Another factor is maturation. The study result may differ as a natural outcome of time. For instance, there may be time variations in which the participants have been using social media platforms. Some may have been using social media for a longer time than others. As a result, the participants who have been exposed to social media for many years may have experienced certain mental health issues which those with less than a month have not experienced. Similarly, there are measurements threats in internal validity which may be a limitation in the study (Torre & Picho, 2016). Measurement becomes a threat when different measures are used in the post-test and pre-test stages. Finally, testing may become a threat in research where pre-testing affects the results of post-testing.
Besides, other limitations may arise in the study due to external validity issues. Some of the issues include sampling bias. Sometimes the sample may not be representative of the entire population. Thus, there may be bias in the collected results. Also, the experimental effect can cause an external validity threat to the study (Torre & Picho, 2016). The behavioural characteristic of the experiment may affect the study outcome. Also, there is a limitation due to the Hawthorne effect, the tendency of the respondents to change their behaviour due to the study. Participants may change their behaviour during the study affecting the outcome of the study. All the mentioned factors are limitations in our study as they may influence the study outcomes.

Berryman, C., Ferguson, C. J., & Negy, C. (2018). Social media use and mental health among young adults. Psychiatric quarterly, 89(2), 307-314.
Coyne, S. M., Rogers, A. A., Zurcher, J. D., Stockdale, L., & Booth, M. (2020). Does time spent using social media impact mental health?: An eight year longitudinal study. Computers in Human Behavior, 104, 106160.
Escobar-Viera, C. G., Whitfield, D. L., Wessel, C. B., Shensa, A., Sidani, J. E., Brown, A. L., … & Primack, B. A. (2018). For better or for worse? A systematic review of the evidence on social media use and depression among lesbian, gay, and bisexual minorities. JMIR mental health, 5(3), e10496.
Rideout, V. (2017). The common sense census: Media use by tweens and teens.
Torre, D. M., & Picho, K. (2016). Threats to internal and external validity in health professions education research. Academic Medicine, 91(12), e21.

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