Health Uncategorized

Study finds teens from poorer backgrounds more addicted to social media

social media

HQ Team

November 29, 2022:Adolescents from lower-income backgrounds are more likely to be addicted to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and instant messaging apps, according to research published in the peer-reviewed journal Information, Communication and Society.

The addiction levels were worse in schools with wider wealth and social status gaps between classmates.

The study was undertaken across more than 179,000 schoolchildren in 40 countries aged 11, 13 and 15. Evidence came from the Health Behavior in School-aged Children, an international World Health Organization collaborative study carried out every four years.

This study aimed to investigate the links between socio-economic inequalities, measured at individual, school and country level, and adolescent Problematic social media use (PSMU).

The negative patterns of the addiction include being unable to reduce screen time or lying to friends and family about social media use.

“These findings indicate the potentially harmful influences of inequality at the individual, school and country level on adolescents’ problematic social media use,” says lead author Michela Lenzi from the University of Padua, Italy, an Associate Professor in psychology.

“Policymakers should develop actions to reduce inequalities to limit maladaptive patterns of social media use by adolescents.”

“As the digital divide continues to close in many countries, economic inequalities persist and remain a robust social determinant of adolescent health and well-being. Schools represent an ideal setting to foster safe and prosocial online behaviors.”

In addition, the authors evaluated the role of peer and family support as moderators of these associations.

Problematic Social Media Use

The researchers asked children to fill in questionnaires related to social media use. The forms were filled out anonymously.

Any child who reported six or more items was identified as having PSMU. These items included feeling bad when not using social media, trying but failing to spend less time using it, and using social media to escape negative feelings.

An index based on material assets in the home or family activities was used to calculate scales of deprivation. Holidays, internet availability extended family support were used to determine poverty levels.

Findings showed that adolescents who were relatively more deprived than their schoolmates and attended more economically unequal schools were more likely to report PSMU.

The association with a wealth divide among pupils in the same class was stronger in youths with lower peer support. But a link between country income inequality and PSMU was only found in adolescents reporting low levels of family support.

One theory suggested by the authors is that sharing images or videos resonates especially with the more deprived adolescents because they associate them with power and status.

Action by policymakers could help limit young people’s dysfunctional or abnormal behavior, reveal the authors.

Prevention efforts should target ‘objective and perceived’ social class differences among schoolmates. Peer support was a key factor in the correlation between deprivation and PSMU.

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