Gizmodo: “How Has Social Media Impacted Our Mental Health” (Mimi Ito quoted)

August 16, 2021

How has social media actually impacted mental health, per the research? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out. According to UCI Professor Mimi Ito:

“At the Connected Learning Lab, we’ve been doing studies of how social media can both support wellbeing for young people as well as detract from it. On the plus side, most young people will say that social media and networked games are a lifeline to supportive connections with friends and loved ones. This was critical during the pandemic when schools and sports were off limits. Social media can also be a way for young people to connect with others with shared interests and identities, which can be a lifeline for youth with marginalized or stigmatized identities such as LBGTQ+ youth or racial and religious minority youth. On the negative side, depending on the spaces they frequent, youth can encounter harassment or unhealthy body image expectations.

Quantitative researchers are engaged in healthy debate over whether it’s possible to isolate and identify the effects of social media on youth mental health, given the wide variability in ways that the platforms are taken up. Some studies have found relationships between some kinds of social media use and mental health problems. However, larger and aggregated studies have not been able to find these relationships generically across all youth and all forms of social media use.

It is safe to say that social media can contribute to both healthy and unhealthy behaviors when it comes to mental health, and just as with offline social life, we need to be mindful of what kinds of relationships and content contributes or detracts from our wellbeing.”

Read the full story at Gizmodo….