Ofcom have conducted a study into the ‘life online for children and young adults’, aimed to look at the relationship young people have with online content and digital media and its impact on mental and physical well-being. The full article on the findings can be found here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/news-centre/2023/life-online-for-children-and-young-adults-revealed.
The study found several interesting outcomes:
Split-screening is on the rise
Most children are watching videos – not creating them
16-24 year olds are being encouraged to take regular social media breaks
Instagram is starting to lose popularity, whilst TikTok and YouTube are on the rise
Young people seem to gravitate towards dramatic, short-form videos on social media
96% of 3-17 year olds watch videos on apps or YouTube
80% of 16-17 year olds watch live-streamed content online
YouTube is the most popular video sharing site with 88% of 3-17 year olds using it.
TikTok is the second-most popular video sharing site with 50-53% of 3-17 year olds using it.
Snapchat is the third-most popular video sharing site with 42-46% of 3-17 year olds using it.
89% of older teens seek out well-being support in online content, for example websites, apps, and videos supporting relaxation, improving mood, aiding sleep, managing anxiety, tracking heath and fitness etc.
This interesting research highlights the prevalence of social media and digital technology in everyday life, especially amongst young people. There are undoubtedly positive and negative impacts of this as media can be used both for good and for bad influences, and a balance whilst using it is incredibly important to consider. However, this balance requires education to understand how it can be obtained, and by sharing best practice and liaising with peers we can gain knowledge and ideas for using the internet to our advantage and benefit. Here are 5 simple ways to help you find a healthy balance when using your mobile phone to access digital media:
- Set aside phone-free time every day and every week. Put your phone in a drawer or somewhere you are unlikely to be distracted by it to give your eyes and mind a break.
- Practice mindfulness when using your phone, and put it away when you do not need it. By focusing on your phone when using it, you can make sure you are purposefully optimising your time on it without distractions. That means when you are finished you can put it away and concentrate your energy on the task you are doing instead without mindless scrolling. You will also be able to engage with those around you much more easily and meaningfully.
- Avoid using your phone before bed. The blue light of your screen can impact negatively on your sleep quality, and too much digital content before going to bed can stimulate too much brain activity to properly rest.
- Check your phone less regularly and turn off notifications where possible. This can help stop you being distracted by your phone in the first place, and using apps such as Mute and Hold can help you monitor your screentime. Turning off push notifications from apps such as news apps can help contribute positively towards managing mental illness such as anxiety.
- Use apps on your phone to motivate you to complete exercise and eat healthily. Use your phone to help you get outside and moving, and to ensure you are drinking enough water and eating the right balance of food. Be mindful though of excessive use of fitness and food tracking apps as they can be addictive and lead to mental health difficulties. Make sure you take regular breaks and speak to your GP or a mental health professional if you are at all concerned.