Student Well-Being From Our Research Center

The Top 10 Bad Outcomes of Social Media Use, According to Students

By Kevin Bushweller — March 29, 2024 1 min read
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The downsides of social media use are getting a lot of attention in 2024.

The year started with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg getting grilled in a congressional hearing about the negative impact of social media use on children. The U.S. House passed a bill in March to ban the use of TikTok in the United States, and the Senate is considering a similar measure. And at the end of March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed one of the country’s most restrictive state social media bans for minors that is scheduled to go into effect in January.

Addressing adolescents’ worsening mental health recently has become a top priority for school, district, state, and federal leaders as young people struggle with record-high rates of depression and anxiety. And much of the conversation around the mental health crisis has centered on young people’s constant use of cellphones and social media.

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“Children have been sold this belief that the more [social media] connections they have, the better off they are,” said Lisa Strohman, a clinical psychologist who specializes in technology-overuse issues and is featured in Education Week’s Technology Counts report. [But] their relationships are not deep, they’re not authentic.”

As part of its Technology Counts report, the EdWeek Research Center surveyed 1,056 high school students across the country about a whole host of issues related to social media use. The survey was conducted Feb. 9 through March 4.

One question asked students what negative consequences they had experienced as a result of their social media use. The question gave them 25 possible options to pick from. Here is a look at the top 10 answers:

1.   I believed information I later learned was fake.

2.   I was too tired to do what I needed to do because I didn't get enough sleep.

3.   I have used social media, but I cannot think of any negative outcomes I experienced as a result.

4.   I got in trouble with my parents/family/home.

5.   My self-esteem got worse.

6.   I was bullied.

7.   I embarrassed myself.

8.   I lost a friend or friends.

9.   It made me feel more isolated/alone.

10.   My grades/test scores got worse.

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Data analysis for this article was provided by the EdWeek Research Center. Learn more about the center’s work.

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