Social media use 'may boost social intelligence levels' among teens, report finds

Research has shown teenagers who spent time online had little problem making friendships in person Credit: PA

Social media use may boost teenager's ability to make friendships in person rather than damage their social skills in the "real world", research suggests, but a lack of social mixing leads to anxiousness in meeting new people.

A report on social intelligence - the ability to 'get on' with people - among adolescents has discovered that an increased use of social media did not correspond to low social skills.

Rather, it found that teenagers who spent more time online were better able to make friendships in person, suggesting more internet use could actually support the development of social skills.

But the report also suggested a lack of social integration with people from different backgrounds was damaging teenager's social skills.

According to the study, insufficient social mixing means that 90% of teenagers are nervous about interacting with people who come from backgrounds different from their own.

The research, carried out by King's College London and the National Citizen Service (NCS), explored how we interact with each other based on our understanding of people's emotions in an increasingly diverse, technology-reliant and connected world.

Dr Jennifer Lau, researcher from King's College London, said:

The research also noted that more than two thirds of the adolescent peer groups studied were made up of people from similar backgrounds, and recommended social mixing should play an "integral part" in developing social intelligence among teenagers.

Six in 10 adolescents admitted to sometimes feeling lonely, and the study suggested that failing to develop social intelligence skills when young could lead to increased loneliness and reduced well-being later in life.