Australians of all ages are increasingly reliant on mobiles and social media, a new survey shows

A new survey by the Australian Psychological Society has shown that Australians generally find life online a positive experience.

But it’s important to be aware of issues around social media use, warns APS executive director Professor Lyn Littlefield.

The survey shows Australians of all ages are increasingly reliant on their mobile phones and make significant use of social media throughout the day, with Facebook and YouTube the most commonly used platforms across all age groups.

Prof Littlefield says the survey shows that Australians still face issues such as bullying, anti-social behaviour and pressure to look good, and that these are having an impact on self-esteem and wellbeing, which is a concern for psychologists.

She advises Australians to “Be selective about who you involve in your online social networks, just as you would offline. 

“The people you connect with should boost your wellbeing, not undermine it.”

Prof Littlefield says also of some concern is that teens are increasingly being contacted by and themselves contacting strangers online, but there is very little monitoring of online activity by parents.

Teens are greater users of social media than adults, logging into their favourite platforms five to nine times a day, almost every day, the survey, which interviewed over 1000 adults and 150 teenagers, found.

One in 10 teens make contact with strangers on Facebook, while 15% report being contacted on Facebook by strangers… on a daily basis. Only 40% of parents monitor their children’s online activity.

Both teens and adults use social media throughout the day, including meal times and in the company of others (60.3% of teens and 41.8% of adults use it just before bed).

The survey also found 63% of teens feel pressure to look good, 59% feel validated when others like their posts, and 35% posted content they’ve regretted.

As for bullying on social media, 28.7% of teens and 20.9% of adults have experienced it.

More Instagram users (20.6%) than non-users (12.6%) were classified as having low self-esteem.

Adults who had been bullied were more likely to spend more time on internet browsing and apps and be 18 – 34 years of age; they were also more likely to report lower self-esteem and poorer satisfaction with life.

“People can have a healthy online life by seeking out social connections that enrich their life—by being mindful not to use angry words, by refraining from constantly looking at social media and by making time for face-to-face connection with friends,” Prof Littlefield says.