Research to examine how children use social media to promote mental wellbeing and seek health advice

A new project led by Dr Michelle O'Reilly from the Department of Sociology aims to explore the role social media plays in promoting mental health and wellbeing in children.

The research, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust, will examine how 12-18 year olds engage with social media and how it can promote their own mental wellbeing.

The study will shed light on young people’s views of social media as impacting negatively or positively on mental wellbeing, how they use social media to seek health information and the barriers to using it as a psycho-educational tool.

While previous research has indicated that social media can both promote mental wellbeing as well as damage it, the research team suggests that the relative anonymity the internet provides has the potential to reduce the associated stigma of discussing mental health issues and can allow young people to freely explore information that could be beneficial to their wellbeing. 

The study ‘Social media use and adolescent mental health. A preliminary qualitative exploration of the potential use of social media for promoting mental health and wellbeing among 12–18 year olds’ will be running until January 2017.