Social Media and Wellbeing

CBC Fremantle is a vibrant community of education, personal growth and social connections. Given the significant amount of time students spend at school, the social connections they form in this environment play a crucial role in their development and daily wellbeing. These friendships and connections to peers contribute to a positive environment offering support and enhancing their learning experience. 20240125-1h1a9518.jpg

During adolescence, friendships and the peer group take centre stage in the progression to independence.  Science explains this shift as the brain prioritising independence, exploration, and forming their own identity. Research varies on specific ages but the 'social reorientation' of adolescence sees a neurological shift that is strongest in the early to middle teens. In this phase, they start seeking input and guidance outside their immediate family and engaging with broader society. For our teens today, much of this vital engagement and influence occurs online. TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat are now the window to the wider world – and not all of it is good.

Wellbeing and social media are intricately linked in today's digital age, with both positive and negative impacts on mental health. On one hand, we must acknowledge social media's ability to provide opportunities for connection, support and reducing feelings of isolation. However, use of social media raises several concerns: the amount of time adolescents spend on platforms; the type of content adolescents consume (or are exposed to); and the degree to which adolescents online interactions disrupt activities essential for health, such as sleep and exercise. The need for regulation, restraint and guidance in using social media is essential for our adolescent's wellbeing.

Our politicians are currently publicly supporting restrictions for children in accessing social media, and most social platforms require youth to be age 13 or older to sign up. Research papers are being released regularly from around the world, including a 2023 Yale Medicine research study of American teens aged 12-15, revealing those who used social media over three hours each day faced twice the risk of having negative mental health outcomes. 
However, controlling and monitoring social media is particularly challenging as it is embedded in the social fabric of adolescent life. Social media is engaging and addictive and often serves as a primary means of communication, socialisation and self-expression. As the adults in their lives, we must accept responsibility in educating young people about managing the use of devices, and supporting them to use these safely, and in a manner that is going to contribute positively to their development.  

At CBC Fremantle students hear from external agencies such as YSafe and ThinkUKnow, as well as workshops informed by our psychologists during their Extended Mentor Wellbeing sessions. Students in the senior years also begin to consider their digital reputation to prepare for life beyond the College. At home, try to establish open and regular conversations about online behaviour so that your child can come to you if they need help or guidance. Seek to familiarise yourself with the platforms your child uses and, as difficult it may be to break already established habits, devices should not be in the bedroom overnight.

If you have concerns regarding social media and your child, please reach out to pastoral staff so that we can work in partnership to support their wellbeing. Hopefully, your child forms strong bonds with his peers here at CBC, viewing his self-worth and identity as more than just his online profile.

Ms Emer Hickey
Deputy Principal Mission & Students