Young people feel pressure to match lives seen on social media

26 February 2019, 13:31

Social Media

More than a third of young people in Scotland say they feel pressure to live up to the lives they see on social media, a survey has found.

The poll of more than 1,000 Scots suggests 18-24 year-olds are feeling the strain of trying to match or better the lives of others they see on the likes of Instagram and Facebook.

Royal Bank of Scotland, who commissioned the survey, said 36% of those questioned felt this way, with 28% of 25-34 year-olds also succumbing to the pressure.

A total of 39% said they felt the need to be constantly contactable by friends, family and employers.

Nearly half (47%) of 25-34 year-old workers said they feared it would limit their career prospects if there were not seen to be always available to their managers or company.

Dr Kate Orton-Johnson, senior lecturer in Digital Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Our devices can blur the boundaries between our private and our public lives - for many of us that might mean that the first thing we do when we wake up in the morning and the last thing we do before we go to bed is to look at our phones and check our emails or our social media feeds.

"By doing this we create an environment in which we feel we need and want to be always on and always connected in case we miss out on opportunities, on invitations or on things we have to do.

"This fear of missing out creates the kinds of stress and anxiety that the results are reporting.

"This stress and anxiety is exacerbated by the fact that our social media feeds are characterised by carefully curated images of other people and their seemingly perfect lives.

"So not only are we feeling overwhelmed by constant connectivity, we are also hyper aware of how we are perceived."

Dr Orton-Johnson said it was "ok and necessary" to take downtime.

The YouGov survey was commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland to understand more about the pressures Scots face and the ways the bank can help.

It was carried out online between February 12 and 14.