The internet can provide valuable opportunities to stay connected and discover areas of interest that may improve our physical and mental well-being. However, some online interactions or experiences can impact us negatively.
Poor mental health can be associated with excessive or problematic use of technology, issues around body image or low self-esteem, or exposure to offensive or distressing content.
It is important that children and young people are supported to develop strategies to keep their online experiences positive and that they know where they can get support with their mental health if needed.
Social media sites allow children and young people to meet and keep in touch with friends, and have easier access to information relevant to their social lives. Internet technologies allow immediate access to education, information and entertainment, and this can create positive effects such as:
Unfortunately, the use of internet technologies is not always positive, so it’s important to recognise the risks and negative effects in order to prevent them.
Some negative effects that internet technologies may have on children and young people include:
The positive and negative effects of internet technologies seem to mirror each other and their impacts may vary, depending on the individual characteristics of the child or young person. The combination of personal characteristics, age, resilience and maturity may explain why internet technologies can have stronger positive effects on some children and young people than others.
In order to reduce the negative effects of internet technologies, parents and carers can take steps to ensure that their child’s well-being online is being enhanced.
Parents and carers can find out more at Pew Internet Research who provide up-to-date information on well-being in a tech-saturated world.