The social dilemma: Nature reveals social division and adverse mental health impacts from the use of social media

 

The social dilemma

Nature reveals social division and adverse mental health impacts from the use of social media

 

A new survey by leading strategic insights consultancy, Nature, has uncovered that while most Australians believe social media is not authentic, it still dictates their social, political, and mental well-being, with our younger generations being the most at risk of adverse effects.

The research shows that social media is taking its toll on the nation in more ways than one:

  • Over one third of Australians question friendships with people when they see support of extreme views on social media that they don’t agree with (35%)
  • 66% of people believe that what you see on social media isn’t an accurate portrayal of someone’s life
  • 74% of people believe mental health is just as important as physical health and agree that social media should have a minimum age restriction
  • 22% of people think that their phone is getting in the way of social relationships
  • 21% of people say they feel addicted to social media
  • 29% of people feel they were better at keeping in touch with friends before they started using social media
  • 39% of 18-39-year-olds are regularly disappointed during or after looking through social media

Nature’s Managing Partner, Chris Crook, said: “With metaverse being the word of the moment, Facebook whistleblowers and continued contention with the spread of conflicting – and often false – information across social media, we need to assess and understand the impact these platforms are having on our population. It’s important to better inform how we tackle regulation, as well as provide support for their users.

“The way we use social media is constantly evolving and the innocent role it once played in our lives is becoming increasingly questionable. It houses the polarisation of intense social and political issues, accelerating division through the global pandemic and recent vaccine mandates. Our research shows that over one-third of the population are questioning their friendships with people in the face of extreme views on social media they don’t agree with, a proportion that jumps to 46% among people under the age of 39,” he said.

Nature Consultant, Georgia Gale, said: “Younger people who grew up with and are more familiar with social media are increasingly swayed by it, with almost half thinking that what they see on social media is an accurate portrayal of life.

“We have found these younger age groups are far more likely to be mentally and emotionally affected by social media, with feelings of anxiety and disappointment prevalent.”

Two thirds of people believe that what you see on social media isn’t an accurate portrayal of someone’s life. However, people aged under 29 are significantly less likely to agree (59%), while 75% of people aged over 70 agree.

People aged 18 to 39 are significantly more likely than older people to feel higher levels of anxiety, jealousy and disappointment when using social media

  • 35% say they feel addicted to social media
  • 26% say they get anxious waiting for a particular person to view or like their post on social media
  • They are 13% more likely to think their phone is getting in the way of social relationships (35% vs 22% total)
  • They are 14% more likely to feel addicted to social media (35% vs 21% total)
  • They are 13% more likely to get jealous when observing what their friends and social network are posting on social media (31% vs 18% total)
  • They are 10% more likely to get anxious waiting for a particular person to view or like their post on social media (26% vs 16% total)
  • 29% wish someone could help them cut their addiction to social media vs 16% of all respondents

The research was conducted 28 September to 6 October 2021. The survey sample was representative of the national population.