SCAMP Study Findings: Teens, Social Media, and Wellbeing

20 Jul 2020

We recently published some research using SCAMP data. A summary of this research is below along with researcher contact details and a link to the full paper.

We have recently conducted some research using the SCAMP study data into the impact of social media on pre-teens’ wellbeing and behaviour. Generally, social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have a minimum age of 13. However, we have found using data from the baseline SCAMP study that two-thirds of the 11-12 year olds in the study used social media. This suggests that many young pre-teens use social media, but, because the minimum age is usually 13, not much research has been done to look at the impact of social media on the wellbeing and behaviour 11-12 year olds. We asked the pre-teens how many hours a day they used social networking sites on their mobile phone and other devices, asking about weekdays and weekends separately. We also asked them if they used social media if awake during the night (yes or no).

We looked at the relationship between social media use and pre-teen health-related quality of life using a scale called KIDSCREEN-10, a broad measure looking at physical (e.g. “have you felt fit and well in the last week?“), psychological (e.g. “have you felt sad in the last week?“) and social (e.g. “have you had fun with your friends in the last week?) aspects of wellbeing. We found that high levels of social media use at both weekdays and weekends were associated with lower wellbeing for girls, but not boys. Using social media if awake at night was also significant associated with lower wellbeing in girls but not boys.

We also looked at the impact of social media use on the behaviour of pre-teens, using a measure called the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. This looks at four different types of behaviour difficulties – 1) emotional problems (e.g. “I am often unhappy”), 2) conduct problems (e.g. “I am often accused of lying or cheating”), 3) hyperactivity (e.g. “I am constantly fidgeting”) and 4) peer problems (e.g. “Other people my age generally like me”). It also includes a measure of strengths – prosocial behaviour (e.g. “I try to be nice to other people”). Higher social media use and social media use if awake at night were both associated with increased behavioural difficulties for both boys and girls. Of the four difficulties, the biggest association was seen for conduct problems and hyperactivity, followed by emotional problems. For peer problems, using social media for up to four hours a day was associated with lower peer problems, suggesting some use of social media may help pre-teens’ relationships with their peers, and then use for five hours or more was associated with more peer problems. Higher social media use was associated with lower prosocial strengths.

Therefore, our research shows that social media may affect the wellbeing and behaviour of 11-12 year olds. The full article can be found here. We had ethical approval for this study from the North West Haydock Research Ethics Committee. We thank all the participants, parents and teachers involved in the SCAMP study for making this research possible.

For more information please contact Rosemary Jenkins or

You can read the full article here: