According to new research recently published in the Journal of Youth Studies, 1 in 5 young people regularly wake up in the night to check or send messages on social media. This nighttime activity could be affecting teenagers’ wellbeing and happiness, as it makes them three times more likely to feel tired at school than their peers who do not log on at night.
More than 900 pupils, aged between 12 and 15 years, took part in the study. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about how often they woke up at night to use social media. The times of their waking up and going to bed was also recorded. They were also questioned about how happy they were with several aspects of their life, including appearance, friendships and school life.
One in five reported that they ‘almost always’ woke up at night to log on. Boys were much less likely to access their social media accounts during the night than girls. Those who didn’t wake up at a regular time in the morning, or who woke up to use social media nearly every night, were about three times as likely to say they were continually tired at school when compared to their peers who wake up at the same time every day, or never log on at night. Pupils who said they were tired at school all the time were also, on average, considerably less happy than other young people were.
Professor Sally Power, Co-Director (Cardiff) Wales Institute for Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) and author of the paper, noted that the research shows that a significant but small number of young people and children say that they often go to school feeling tired. These same young people also have the lowest levels of wellbeing. More than one-third of the young people questioned wake up at least once a week to check for messages and one in five wake up every night. The sanctuary of the bedroom is definitely being invaded by the use of social media.
The study results support mounting concerns about the use of social media by young people during nighttime. Because of the complex range of probable explanations for tiredness at school, further larger studies will however be needed before any well-founded conclusions can be made about the social consequences and causes of sleep deficiency among the youth today.