Just one in five Northern Ireland young people say using social media makes them happy
Nearly two thirds of young people in Northern Ireland feel "overwhelming pressure" from social media, a new survey has revealed.
A report carried out by a children's charity found that over half (57%) of young people in Northern Ireland feel "inadequate" when comparing their life to their friends on social media.
According to the Prince's Trust eBay Youth Index, nearly two thirds (61%) of 16-25 year olds surveyed think social media creates an "overwhelming pressure" to succeed.
More than a third (40%) of young people worry that they will never be as happy as the people they see on social media.
One in six (18%) said they "always" or "often" feel "panicked" when seeing the lives of their friends online.
The findings are contained in the Youth Index, supported by eBay, a national survey of young people's happiness and confidence across a range of areas from their working life to physical and mental health.
The survey also found that 31% of young people feel more confident online than they do in person.
A third (32%) of respondents claim that social media makes them feel like they can have a voice for their generation and influence positive change.
Asked about what makes them happy, only one in five (20%) said spending time on social media, while more popular responses included sport (38%), earning enough money to live how they want (29%) and spending time with family (76%).
Responding to the findings, UK chief executive of The Prince's Trust Nick Stace said: "It appears that in the last 12 months nothing has happened to improve the way young people in Northern Ireland and across the UK are feeling about their lives.
"It is very sad to see the Youth Index score remain at its lowest level, and especially concerning that young people in Northern Ireland are lagging behind their peers.
"Since the Youth Index launched a decade ago, social media has become omnipresent in the lives of young people and this research suggests it is exacerbating what is already an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time.
"Young people are critical to the future success of this country, but they'll only realise their full potential if they believe in themselves and define success in their own terms."
He added:"It is therefore a moral and economic imperative that employers, government, charities and wider communities put the needs of young people centre stage."
Rob Hattrell, vice president of eBay UK, added: "The decline in young people's wellbeing score in this year's Youth Index is very concerning. eBay continues to work closely with The Prince's Trust, building the confidence and skills of more young people to help them realise their full ambition and potential.
"The next generation is the future of our economy, so it's now more important than ever to ensure every young person is equipped to carve their own path to success."