January 2018, VOLUME141 /ISSUE 1 MeetingAbstract

Social Media and Its Impact on Adolescents

  1. Taaha Shakir, MD1,
  2. Nehal Bhandari, MD2,
  3. Angela Andrews, MD3,
  4. April Zmitrovich, MSW, MPH4,
  5. Johnna Gadomski, Student5,
  6. Courtney McCracken, PhD6, and
  7. Claudia R. Morris, MD7
  1. (1)Emory, Atlanta, GA
  2. (2)Emory, Decatur, GA
  3. (3)Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  4. (4)Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
  5. (5)Private School Student, Atlanta, GA
  6. (6)Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Atlanta, GA
  7. (7)Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Study Title: Social media and its impact on adolescents Background and objective: Social media (SM) use is widespread among adolescents. Many websites and applications frequented by adolescents lend themselves to cyberbullying, which can lead to anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of bullying and anxiety related to SM. Methods: From 04/2015-06/2015, patients aged 13-18 were surveyed about SM use and cyberbullying in a large Pediatric Emergency Department (ED). A separate group of children aged 13-18 were also surveyed at a private school (PS) between 10/2015-11/2015. Prospective surveys were summarized using descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 539 surveys were collected (233 from the ED; 306 from the PS). In both groups the median age was 14 years and 55% were female. Over 90% of respondents utilized SM with the most common applications being Instagram (ED-73% PS-85%) and text messaging (ED-55% PS-88%). Over 80% of respondents in both groups accessed SM using cell phones. 16% of respondents overall reported being bullied on SM and an alarming 56% knew someone bullied on SM (Figure 1). While only 16% stated they were bullied, over 40% had experienced some form of cyberbullying including: mean/threatening emails or negative comments on SM. Levels of anxiety were higher in victims of SM bullying (Figure 1). Over 86% of aggressors are victims (Figure 2). Of those who had been bullied in both groups combined, only 8% wanted to stop using SM. Conclusions: This survey demonstrated that most adolescents use SM and over 40% have been bullied on SM. Most adolescents that took part in cyberbullying had themselves been bullied on SM, which plays into the cycle that victims become aggressors. Very few respondents wanted to stop using SM, indicating the essential role SM plays in the life of adolescents. Further work is needed to create proper screening tools as well as treatment modalities to identify and aid children affected by cyberbullying. Of concern, most victims of cyberbullying were not able to self-identify themselves as victims, underscoring the depth to which the effects of SM are not yet understood.