Media release: 11 November 2017

New research

Australians find life online a positive experience, using technology to maintain important connections with friends and family, but many also face pressures about how they look and how others react to their posts, a new survey by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) reveals.

The Digital Me survey, released today for Psychology Week (12 – 18 November), explored how social media and technology is affecting the wellbeing of Australians. More than 1,000 adults and 150 teens aged 14 – 17 years were surveyed.

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

  • 79% of teens and 54% of adults are highly involved with their mobile phones.
  • Nine out of ten adults use some form of social media.
  • Facebook is the most used platform by all age groups, is most commonly used to connect with friends and reported as a generally positive experience.
  • Teens are higher users of social media than adults, logging on to their favourite platforms 5 – 9 times a day, almost every day.
  • 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.
  • 63% of teens feel pressure to look good, 59% feel validated when others ‘like’ their posts, and 35% posted content they’ve regretted.
  • 28.7% of teens and 20.9% of adults have been bullied on social media.
  • Adults that were bullied or trolled online were more likely to have higher mobile phone involvement, spend significantly more time on internet browsing and apps and be 18 – 34 years of age.
  • 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 report lower self-esteem and poorer satisfaction with life.

APS Executive Director, Professor Lyn Littlefield, says while social media use has benefits, it’s important to be aware of the negative impact it can have on wellbeing.

She says the survey shows that Australians still face issues such as 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.

Professor Littlefield says, “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.”

Professor 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.

The APS will release its Digital Me survey on 11 November ahead of Psychology Week (12 – 18 November)
Link to survey: The survey is available for review under embargo

Resources for thriving in the digital age can be found on the Compass for life websitehttp://compassforlife.org.au/

APS tip sheets:

- Ends -

Notes to editors:

The Digital Me survey key findings will be released on Sunday 11 November, but will be available under embargo a few days prior.

For more information, or to receive the embargoed survey, call Rebecca Matthews on 03 8662 3358 or 0435 896 444, or email media@psychology.org.au.

The Digital Me survey was commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society and
the survey fieldwork was conducted by an independent research company, Forethought

Psychology Week is an annual initiative of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) that aims to increase public awareness of how psychology can help Australians lead healthier, happier and more meaningful lives.

In 2017 APS is continuing the Compass for Life campaign, to help Australians improve their happiness and wellbeing by promoting ways to thrive in the digital age.