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‘I spent four and a half hours a day on social media’ – the good, the bad and the ugly of Irish teens’ online life

From online bullying to body image issues to the benefits of staying in touch, five Irish teenagers speak frankly about how they use Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and TikTok

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Positive side: Mia Byrne (18), from Offaly, likes to use social media to keep on top of animal rescue news. Photo: Tom O’Hanlon

Positive side: Mia Byrne (18), from Offaly, likes to use social media to keep on top of animal rescue news. Photo: Tom O’Hanlon

Cara Sullivan (13) from Dublin 12

Cara Sullivan (13) from Dublin 12

Mikey Ó Siochrú (19) from Clane, Kildare. Photo: Frank McGrath

Mikey Ó Siochrú (19) from Clane, Kildare. Photo: Frank McGrath

Aoibheann Ní Fhaoláin (15) from Ballyfin, Co Laois. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Aoibheann Ní Fhaoláin (15) from Ballyfin, Co Laois. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Dara Kavanagh (16) from Ratoath, Co Meath

Dara Kavanagh (16) from Ratoath, Co Meath

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Positive side: Mia Byrne (18), from Offaly, likes to use social media to keep on top of animal rescue news. Photo: Tom O’Hanlon

Parents have long been suspicious that social media — with its addictive, all-consuming nature — mightn’t be good for our teenagers. And the troubling revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Hauger have only confirmed these fears for many parents. Speaking to US politicians last month, Hauger said the company was aware of apparent harm to teenagers from Instagram, but prioritised profits over concerns about young people’s mental health.

But on the other hand, with the isolation of the pandemic, many young people relied on social media platforms to stay connected. So what do our young people really think about their lives online?


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