Young people ‘rebelling against social media’

Written by Anthony Strzalek

Young people are rebelling against the current state of social media, with almost two-thirds (63 per cent) saying they wouldn’t mind if it had never been invented, new research has found.

The study, which polled more than 5,000 students and was conducted by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) and Digital Awareness UK, also revealed that 71 per cent of students have undergone ‘digital detoxes’ to take a break from social media and would happily do the same again.

Respondents highlighted the emotional impact social media is having on their wellbeing with 57 per cent stating they’ve received abusive comments online; 56 per cent feeling they are on the edge of addiction; and 52 per cent saying social media makes them feel less confident about how they look or how interesting their life is.

More than 60 per cent believe friends show a fake version of themselves on social media but 85 per cent believe they do not do so themselves.

The research also highlights what students like about social media. Internet ‘memes’, ‘filters/lenses’ and storytelling features, such as Snapchat Stories, are listed amongst the most popular social media trends. To improve their user experience, students have shared what social networks need to consider moving forward:

• Less advertising (73 per cent)

• More trusted sites, i.e. less fake news (61 per cent)

• More creative and inspiring content (55 per cent)

• Greater privacy (49 per cent)

• Opportunities to earn income on social media (33 per cent)

Chris King, chair of HMC and headmaster of Leicester Grammar School, said: “The findings of this poll may surprise teachers and parents but it will help them understand the pressures young people feel in the digital age.

“It is fascinating to see the first indications of a rebellion against social media and reminds us that they may need help to take breaks from its constant demands. The respondents also had clear advice to social networks about the need to consider the quality and trustworthiness of their content.”