Almost 30% of young people in Ireland feel constant peer pressure and scrutiny from social media has made their lives more difficult, research has found.
Around a quarter of youngsters spend an average of four hours per day on their smartphone, with 20% using them for six or more hours.
Only 3% spend one hour or less on their smartphone.
According to new research by Young Social Innovators and Amarach Research Index, some 60% of young people said social media has positively impacted their lives.
But a large proportion (28%) feel the constant peer pressure and scrutiny from social media also contributes to making life more difficult.
The report looks specifically at smartphone usage and attitudes towards social media among people aged 16 to 21.
Young Social Innovators chief executive Rachel Collier said: “There has been a lot of discussion in the media in recent weeks about keeping young people occupied during the summer months and, in particular, how to get them away from screens.
“From this research, we can see how strongly embedded smartphones are in the day-to-day lives of Generation Z.
“For all of us involved in guiding young people from teens to adulthood, the issue of smartphone usage is something that we need to be aware of.
“Smartphone usage can involve a range of activities for young people. For some, staying networked and connected is very important, others may engage in video or gaming, while for some it’s the source of news and information that might stimulate a school project or further learning.
“These activities are not inherently bad or damaging, but we are aware that prolonged use likely takes time and energy away from important social interactions and real-life relationships, as well as off-line learning and general wellbeing.
“We need to focus on getting the balance right between smartphone usage and real-life experiences, without trying to roll-back on something that is firmly part of contemporary youth culture.”
The majority of young people (93%) feel the life of a teenager is more difficult than it was for their parents.
The scrutiny and unrealistic expectations of beauty and life perfection come across as areas of concern for young people
Some 36% said pressure to achieve good exam grades, go to college and get a good job are areas where life has become most difficult, while 31% indicated unrealistic beauty and life satisfaction perpetuated by social media makes life more difficult for today’s teenagers.
Despite feeling pressurised by the “always on culture”, young people feel social media plays a positive role in their lives.
Sarah Rooney, associate director at Amarach Research, said: “The scrutiny and unrealistic expectations of beauty and life perfection – arising from social media interaction – come across as areas of concern for young people.
“Overall, as we saw from our primary research – issued in May – young people feel stressed and anxious, and their relationship with social media clearly contributes to this.
“Interestingly, while young people feel social media has made their lives more difficult by creating this culture of scrutiny, the majority of them also see it as a force for good.
“This research clearly highlights the conflicting relationship that young people have with social media.
“As the first generation born into social media, they view it as contributing positively to their lives, however they also appear to be struggling with the pressures stemming from it.”