According to research conducted by an international team including Professor Frank Elgar from McGill University, adolescents from lower-income backgrounds are more likely to report addictive use of social media. The study found a connection between economic inequality and the problematic use of social networking platforms and instant messaging apps.
The researchers identified problematic social media use in teens who reported six or more addiction-like behaviors, such as feeling bad when not using social media, trying but failing to spend less time using it, and using social media to escape from negative feelings.
The situation is worse in schools where differences in wealth between classmates are greater. The authors say the results – based on more than 179,000 schoolchildren in 40 countries – suggest that new strategies are needed for social media use that promote ways to disengage. Action by policymakers could help limit young people’s harmful behavior, add the authors. These negative patterns include being unable to reduce screen time or lying to friends and family about social media use.
Reference: “Can an equal world reduce problematic social media use? Evidence from the Health Behavior in School-aged Children study in 43 countries” by Michela Lenzia, Frank J. Elgar, Claudia Marino, Natale Canale, Alessio Vieno, Paola Berchialla, Gonneke W. J. M. Stevens, Meyran Boniel-Nissim, Regina J. J. M. van den Eijnden and Nelli Lyyra, 7 September 2022, Information Communication & Society.