Young people anxious over coronavirus impact on education, Snapchat says

21 April 2020, 00:04

The Snapchat app on a mobile phone
Snapchat. Picture: PA

New research on UK users of the social media platform found that education and the health of friends and family was worrying teenagers on the app.

The coronavirus outbreak has made younger Britons anxious about its impact on their education, according to a survey by Snapchat.

The social media platform found that 65% of 13 to 17-year-old UK Snapchat users worried about the virus’s impact on their education.

The research also suggests as people get older, the impact on employment and finances becomes more of a concern, with nearly half (48%) of 25 to 34-year-olds admitting they are worried about their financial health.

Overall, the health of family and loved ones was the most commonly cited concern of Snapchat users, with 82% naming it as a source of anxiety, while just under half (47%) said they were concerned for their own health.

The research also highlighted that many found social media to be a vital tool in managing anxiety during the pandemic and social distancing measures.

Nearly three-quarters of those asked (72%) said staying in touch with friends was their number one way to calm stress and anxiety during self-isolation.

The photo and video-sharing platform said it was working with mental health charity Student Minds to provide tips and tools to those who want more information on how to handle anxiety or stress during the pandemic.

Although used by a wide range of age groups, Snapchat is most popular with teenage social media users and is the social media platform of choice for many under the age of 25.

Ed Couchman, Snapchat’s UK general manager, said: “Snapchat has always been a platform for connecting with your friends, and from this data, we know that our role is more crucial than ever.

“While we have always had a curated news platform, at this time we are highlighting information from trusted partners on the pandemic, through news on Discover, and creative tools in partnership with the World Health Organisation.

“We have also expedited the launch of Here For You to help with tools, advice and access to partners if Snapchatters need more help dealing with anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic.”

Natasha Devon, a trustee for Student Minds and involved in wellbeing programmes at a number of British universities, said: “It’s important to recognise that the fear and stress reported in these stats is a completely understandable and normal reaction to a highly unusual set of circumstances.

“That we are seeing high levels of anxiety, particularly in young people, does not indicate that there is something wrong with them – in fact, quite the opposite.

“The key is to acknowledge that inevitable stress and anxiety during this time is having an impact on us, both emotionally and physically, and to plan specific strategies for self-care, as well as seeking support if needed.”

Ms Devon encouraged people to stay informed during the pandemic – something 46% of those surveyed said helps them – but she urged users to be “selective” with what they engage with online, only picking news sources which are “trusted and evidence-based” while also limiting consumption to avoid being overwhelmed.

She also defended social media platforms and their role in mental health, particularly among young people, arguing that its ability to keep people connected during lockdown was now vital.

“It’s ironic how we have been encouraged to believe that technology is responsible for rising levels of poor mental health in young people over the past decade, when now it has become an absolutely essential means of connecting with the outside world,” she said.

“Staying connected is the most popular coping strategy cited by those surveyed, which reflects the fact that community and belonging are key human psychological needs and technology helps us to access these whilst physically distancing.”

By Press Association

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