Over half (56%) of regular social media users feel like they are not reaching their full potential, research from the Future Foundation has found.

Its research revealed that social media users were much more likely to feel like they were underperforming: 56% of regular social networkers felt like they weren’t reaching their potential, while just 39% of non-social-networkers did.

Future Foundation found that people felt like they were underperforming in four main ways: body image, career, mood, and energy levels.

The fact that social networkers are more likely to feel that they are missing their potential suggests that social networking affects people’s self-perception in these four areas – in part because of the apparent visibility and volume of others users’ success.

In addition to the strong connection between social networking and the sense of underperforming, nearly one in three young men aged 25-34 in the study wished they could be more like the person they describe themselves as on social media.

This shows that Brits are responding to the importance of appearing successful online by creating and projecting an idealised version of themselves, feeding the cycle of comparison.

Will Seymour, brand officer at Future Foundation, said: “Social media usage has created a culture of comparison among today’s young people.

“To be satisfied with one’s life is to be complacent – the goal is to be in a permanent state of improvement, always striving for something better.

“With an online culture of direct comparison, it’s no surprise that social media usage has a greater bearing on how much people worry about not achieving their potential than income or even education.”

Millennials emerged as the age group most likely to feel that they are failing in life – 63% of British Millennials (those aged 17-33) felt they were not reaching their potential at that moment in time, followed by Generation X (between 34-54 years old) with 57% and 37% of Baby Boomers (aged between 55-70 years).

Just 26% of Britons aged 65 and over reported that they felt like they weren’t achieving their full potential – this was the most content group overall.

Additional data revealed that Greater London is home to the greatest proportion of those feeling like they were not reaching their potential – 55% of Londoners felt like failures compared to the UK’s most satisfied region, the West Midlands, with 47%.

Homeowners were less inclined to feel that they haven’t reached their full potential with 38%, compared to 62% of those renting accommodation.