Social Media Use Can Have Negative Physical Effects, StatsCan

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the effects of social media use, and anecdotally, things have not been good. Most people are talking about the spread of conspiracy theories, election lies, and medical misinformation, but what about the physical effects of spending too much time on social media? Statistics Canada is here to tell you that there are some of those too, and the younger you are, the more likely you’ll feel them.

According to StatsCan, there are a lot of people in Canada who are social media users. In their report, the 2018 Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS), about 78 per cent of Canadians regularly use at least one social media network including the majors like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. By age group that’s about 36 per cent of people over 65, 63 per cent of  people aged 50 to 64, and all the way up to 92 per cent for people aged 20 to 24. Over half of social media users between aged 15 and 24 have three or more accounts, and so do 25 per cent of users over 30.

So know that we know the who, we move to the what, and the what is not good. Of the people between the ages of 15 to 64 who took the survey, 19 per cent reported that they lost sleep because of their social media use, 22 per cent said they did less physical activity, 18 per cent said they had trouble concentrating on tasks, and between 12 and 14 per cent reported negative emotional experiences including anger, anxiety, depression, and envy.

As perhaps expected, the younger you are, the more you feel those effects. Nearly half of all those surveyed between 15 and 19, 47 per cent, said that they’ve lost sleep over social media use. Almost three out of 10 along people aged 20-24 said they lost sleep, and so did one-in-five among people aged 25 and 49.

In terms of users who said that social media made them feel anxious or depressed, between 19 and 23 per cent of respondents between the ages of 15 and 29 reported that they had those feelings, and the younger you are, the more social media use made you feel those “negative emotion-related outcomes.” This is also an area where StatsCan saw strong differences between men and women in this category, with higher numbers of women reporting those negative emotional outcomes.

In terms of the effect on physical activity, the age group that reported the biggest impact was those between the ages of 35 and 49, with a women again making up the higher portion than men.

You can see the complete StatsCan report here.

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