Report: Teens spending time on social media can actually be fruitful if interacting positively online
Overall, teens in the study who found support online reported less loneliness
If teens are spending time scrolling through and posting on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and other social media platforms, then here's something that could be of use to their parents.
When it comes to screen time, the problem is not so much the number of hours they spend online, it's the quality of their online interactions, suggests a study, published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, of more than 700 adolescents in the US.
Overall, teens in the study who found support online -- such as chatting with friends and relatives via WhatsApp or joining multiplayer online video games -- reported less loneliness.
"Our findings support our hypothesis that how you spend your time on screens, and not how much time you spend online, is the best predictor of loneliness and well-being," said lead author Lucï¿½a Magis-Weinberg at the Univerity of California-Berkeley.
For the study, the researchers surveyed students between the ages of 11 and 17 to understand their online behaviour and relationships under socially isolated conditions and to assess how these factors related to their moods and their sense of belonging.
They also completed separate questionnaires on which electronic devices they used, their social media preferences, their loneliness levels, and their general well-being.
For most of the students, smartphones were the preferred device for connecting to non-educational online activities, followed by laptops and then video game consoles.
As for their mental health outlook, the students reported more positive than negative online interactions, especially with regard to discussing problems and getting helpful feedback via WhatsApp.
*Edited from an IANS report