British teens use their phones way more than normal

Teens are well known for tapping away on their phones, but British teenagers are taking the stereotype to a more “extreme” level.

British teens use their phones way more than normal

According to a report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), more than a third of the UK’s 15-year-olds can be classified as “extreme internet users” – classified by using the internet more than six hours a day. This percentage is larger than every OECD country besides Chile.

A whopping 94.8% of UK 15-year-olds also use social media before or after school, and the report optimistically doesn’t include the percentage of kids who use social media during study hours. UK children also start surfing the web relatively young at six years old or younger, according to the report. 

There are some potential benefits to social media use cited by the report, such as helping teens “develop their identities” and connect with others, but there seem to be more potential negative effects than positive ones.

Some online risks for teens include cyberbullying, negatively influencing body image and websites or social networks that enable violence. A higher percentage of extreme internet users reported being bullied than “moderate internet users,” or teens who spent one to two hours online. Moderate users also reported higher life-satisfaction scores than extreme internet users. Besides, simply having your phone out while working can affect your productivity negatively.   

There is a definite correlation between extreme use of social media and young people’s poor wellbeing, but more research is necessary to understand the relationship, according to the report.

The EPI also uses the report as a call to arms for policymakers and educators, urging them to consider the effect internet usage has on kids and how to mitigate those risks.

“The report calls upon the government to explore the development of resilience in young people, rather than focusing just on safeguarding – in order to support their mental health and emotional wellbeing, and their safe participation in increasingly complex digital environments,” it states. 

The government is due to publish guidelines on how young people should protect themselves online, how parents regulate internet usage, and social media companies’ responsibilities with an Internet Safety Strategy this summer. This initiative was announced about a month after the release of a report by England’s children’s commissioner in January that found that children are “left to learn about the internet on their own with parents vainly hoping that they will benefit from its opportunities while avoiding its pitfalls”.

Maybe the best place to start for harmless social media is the meaningless social media app Binky, or ensuring complete isolation by throwing your phone away and never looking back.

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