It’s Official, Social Media Has Fried Women’s Mental Health

It’s Official, Social Media Has Fried Women’s Mental Health

We all know that social media messes up our mental health, especially if like me, you’ve grown up with platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and even MSN at your fingertips. 

As much as I love the internet, it sadly can be a massive plight on our mood and state of mind. 

New research from e61 Institute backs this up saying there is a massive correlation between social media and mental health, and if you’re a woman born in 1990 or after, it has a greater impact on you. 

As someone born in 1993 and a woman, I can very much attest to that. My first taste of social media was through MSN and MySpace in 2006 when I was 12 years old. 

Growing up in this new way of socialising online, I have some sad memories of being cyberbullied through MySpace and MSN. Sadly, I have some friends who have had worse experiences than me.

Fast forward to 2012 and we had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, with no age limits or ways to get around the age limits (a lot of my friends turned 99 in 2013). 

The e61 Institute found that youth mental health began falling sharply after 2012 and reflects low rates of mental health and high rates of self-reported social isolation for young females born since the late 1990s.

This all checks out, social media has been around since the mid-2000s and even earlier if you count public forums. 

“Our research finds that youth mental health was stable but then began falling sharply after 2012 which coincides with the time when photo and video-sharing social media platforms became widely popular,” e61 Research Director, Gianni La Cava said. 

La Cava noted there needs to be more data to say social media is causing a decline in mental health amongst Aussies but the writing is on the wall. 

And even more so for young women. 

“We find that young women born since the late 1990s (Generation Z) – who use social media more than any other group – have strikingly lower mental health than older women and all men,” she said. 

“This fits existing data showing they experience higher rates of mental health disorders, greater need for help from mental health professionals and increasing rates of mental health-related hospitalisations.”

The research also notes a decline in men’s mental health, see the chart below, but it wasn’t as severe as the women’s decline.

The e61 research also finds rates of social isolation among young people have been increasing since 2012 after a stable period and are again worse among young women.

According to the research, the Friendship Index score for young women declined from around 0.97 to 0.12 from 2011 to 2022, while the score for young men dropped from 1.08 to around 0.45. 

The Friendship Index measures the extent to which respondents agree or disagree with the statement: ‘I seem to have a lot of friends’.

The research didn’t offer many suggestions for what we should do and it’s also hard to bring suggestions in place when it’s becoming easier to hide apps. The opposition has promised to raise the age minimum for social media use to 16 years old if elected in 2025.

The eSafety Commission has shared tips on how to stay safe on social media.

If you require support, know that help is available. Please call Lifeline at 13 11 14, or Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800.

Read the research here

Image: Fox/Gizmodo Australia

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.