At River Network we have a top of the range Media studio to broadcast from with television quality and 3 Media TV sets ready to use. Media, especially social media, is one of the easiest ways to get services and information shared with thousands of people within minutes. Social media is overtaking conventional media for services like the news, especially for young people. Media and social media can have positive and negative effects on families and individuals alike. It can help families get the support they need from different services offered online, such as mental health support or finding suitable nurseries and/or care providers for children, as well as locations of important services like Foodbanks. Unfortunately, Media can also promote bullying and helps to generate hate in groups of people, especially in those most susceptible to its effects.

Around 4.8 billion people use the internet, around 5.67 billion people (just under 67% of the world’s total population) own mobile phones and around 4.48 billion people (57% of the world’s total population) are on social media. Over the course of a 12-month period there is a 2.3% increase in people who own mobile phones, increasing by 117 million people (almost 10 million new users per month). Over half a billion new users joined social media within the 12-month period preceding July 2021, a 13% increase.

The average person spends around seven hours per day using the internet, more than twice the amount of time they spend watching television. Of this time around 2 hours 25 minutes are spent on social media, a roughly two-minute increase from stats three months prior. Of these social media platforms, the most commonly used are Facebook, with 2.89 billion active users, Instagram, with 1.074 billion active users, and TikTok, with 689 million active users.

98.3% of Facebook users access the platform through mobile devices. In December of 2020, Facebook had 1.84 billion active users, showing a near 1 billion increase in users of the platform in the space of around 6 months. However, while the number of users is increasing, certain groups of people are using the platform less and less. Teens are reported to be using Facebook less, with 71% of teens using Facebook in 2015 and 67% using Facebook in 2021.

Media can give unrealistic impressions to people about certain subjects, having massively negative impacts on people’s lives by making them want something unattainable and giving them unrealistic expectations of what their life should be like. A lot of younger people compare themselves with other people on social media, whether it be someone their own age who seems to have a more ‘on-track’ life, or someone younger experiencing things they want to and seem to have a ‘perfect’ life. The impact of things like this can lead people to develop issues such as depression, loneliness or a negative body image, some even turning to bullying. People only post to social media what they want others to see, setting an unrealistic expectation of a life without any problems.

Online bullying is also a huge issue online and not just for young people. In recent years social media sites have cracked down on online abuse and have methods of reporting and blocking abuse sent. People also make and use fake social media accounts, pretending to be someone they are not with the intention of luring people to make bad or dangerous decisions. Many of these accounts target younger people and intend to groom them online into meeting in-person. In recent years, this has become a much bigger issue, especially with children as young as 8 years old now having access to some form of social media with the rise of apps such as TikTok.

Adolescents reported symptoms of major depression with an increase of 52% between 2005 and 2017 in conjunction with the creation of Facebook in 2004 and its rise in popularity over the years. Adults aged 18-25 reported symptoms of major depression with an increase of 63% between 2009 and 2017. From 2008 to 2017, young adults experienced psychological distress in a given month 71% more, with suicidal thoughts increasing by 41% in the same time period. In young boys, rates of depression increased by 21% and 50% in young girls between 2012 and 2015.

Using data of mental health problems in conjunction with social media statistics, it has been found that spending more than 3 hours per day on social media puts adolescents specifically at higher risk of mental health problems. A solution for this is limiting social media usage. Using social media less has found to decrease rates of loneliness, depression and anxiety, as well as helping drastically with sleep problems.

Although social media comes with a plethora of negative effects, its positive effects cannot go unspoken. People can find online spaces, such as forums, that can help them to feel included and make new connections and friendships with like-minded people. People can also connect though blogs and vlogs, which could help others who are going through similar issues or simply provide a form of entertainment to somebody who might need it. Social media can also be used to find interesting or important information shared with others, such as Foodbanks or help with education or finance, as well as pages that could direct families to social events in their local area that could benefits both them and their children.
Technology and Media can also have a major positive experience with games, films and tv that can be used in educational ways or simply just for fun to take peoples mind off of the things that may be affecting them.

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