Leading health and wellbeing charity, Central YMCA, is advising young people to limit their time on social media when feeling unhappy, following new research.
Research published in the Eudaimonia Report "How do humans flourish?" compiled by Central YMCA, found that the use of social media often amplifies the user’s current mood. Rosi Prescott, chief executive of Central YMCA has issued a warning regarding the use of social media when feeling low following the publication of their wellbeing report.
The study measured each person’s (aged 16–65) overall sense of wellbeing and then asked them to assess the impact of different factors on how they were feeling. 35% of people with low wellbeing scores said that using social media made them feel worse (compared to 18% of people with average wellbeing scores).
Conversely, 36% of people with high wellbeing scores, reported feeling happier after spending time on social media (compared to 20% of people with average wellbeing scores).
These findings support a recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Pisa survey which revealed that British students who spent more than six hours online per day had a weaker sense of belonging, felt lonelier and were more likely to be bullied.
The OECD Pisa survey also found that, British pupils in comparison to their global peers are more anxious and worried, with almost three quarters reporting feeling nervous before tests compared to a 55% international average.
Commenting on the findings, Rosi Prescott, chief executive at Central YMCA, said:
“Our study found that many young people (those 24 years or younger) use social media as a way to improve their mood and sense of personal wellbeing, a much higher proportion than older groups.
“However, while this may be the effect when they are already feeling positive, the research found that using social media when in a low mood often exaggerates these negative feelings.
“The impact of social media on our personal sense of wellbeing is clearly complex, but young people should be aware that there are better strategies to help lift their spirits when feeling low.
“These are, according to the data, involve undertaking physical activity or spending time with good friends or family.  Mental stimulation, is also shown to improve feelings of wellbeing, such as completing a difficult task or learning something new.”
About Central YMCA: Established in 1844, Central YMCA is the world's first YMCA. Changing lives for the better through a unique approach to education and training, we're here to help others towards happier, healthier and more active futures through our four distinct operations:
About YMCA Training: YMCA Training is a nationwide training provider, transforming the lives of young people and adults through work-related training, apprenticeships and employment support. Operating from dedicated centres and employer premises across the UK, it offers an expanding range of programmes, including Advanced Apprenticeships and specialist programmes for local communities or employers.
About YMCA Awards: YMCA Awards is the UK’s leading awarding organisation for health, fitness and wellbeing qualifications, issuing over 36,000 certificates per year. It develops and awards a diverse suite of qualifications that are delivered through a range of educational establishments. A highly respected name amongst industry experts, employers and learners, it helps people across the world to develop new careers in the health and fitness industry and beyond. These awards are complimented by eLearning and digital publishing technology; YMCA Awards creates and delivers ground breaking digital publishing solutions for clients, customers and markets across the UK and overseas.
YMCA Club: The largest gym facility in central London, the YMCA Club is truly unique. It offers its members a friendly, inclusive environment with access to the latest equipment and a distinctive timetable. Furthermore, through delivering programmes for hard to reach and in-need groups from the local community, the Club makes a real difference to all those who walk through its doors. YMCA One KX is part of our wellbeing provision offering the only licensed Merrithew Stott Pilates studio in London and the UK’s largest dedicated studio for Yoga and Pilates.
YMCA Fit: Established in 1984, YMCAfit is the most experienced fitness training provider in the UK, having trained over 90,000 students. Offering world class training through the sector’s most extensive and inclusive portfolio of courses, it invests heavily in research and development to create innovative training options and resources to help its graduates stay at the forefront of the industry.

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