Social media use in adolescence predicts life satisfaction

Research published in Nature Communications has found the high social media use in adolescence is linked to lower life satisfaction and lower social media use is linked to higher life satisfaction.

They also found:

  • Young people are most susceptible to this impact during ‘windows’ of ages.
  • For males, these were 14–15 and 19 years old.
  • Females, however, first had a window from 11-13 years and then again at 19 year.
  • Decreases in life satisfaction also predicted higher social media use.

Richard Daniel Curtis, founder of the National Network of Mental Health Leads says “This finding is more evidence of the work we need to do to ensure that we are able to give our pupils the skills they need to be able to make informed choices about their social media use. Social media firms are spending billions on tech designed to feed into the emotions and hormones that they can trigger to make it addictive for young people, now we know the potential negative impact that can have.”

Suggestions for Mental Health Leads to consider:

  • The Relationships, (Sex) and Health Education curriculum gives schools the opportunity to discuss social media use in different modules from primary upwards. Leads should reflect on this study with PSHE leads to ensure that this curriculum gives our young people the skills to make informed choices before they leave primary school.
  • Use the pupil voice to give you ideas for strategies for breaking the social media cycle.
  • Ask staff how confident they feel with teaching these aspects of the curriculum. Consider training staff on the chemical and emotional impact of social media use to help their confidence levels.
  • Share this insight with appropriate leads across the setting.
  • FE and Post 16 sector Leads should consider the implications for the support they offer their young adults.

Read the full research at

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