The impact of social media and screen-use on young people's health

16 Apr 2018 Becca Cawthorne

The UK Safer Internet Centre has responded to The Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health.

This month The Science and Technology Committee conducted a consultation relating to the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health.

The UK Safer Internet Centre response

The executive summary highlights the UK safer Internet Centres key response to this consultation:

  • Technology brings many benefits to children and young people for creativity, learning, connection, self-expression, support and advice. The internet provides an essential means for children to claim and fulfil their rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is important to ensure that any policy or intervention to protect and empower children online does not restrict their access to the opportunities offered by technology.
  • While digital technology offers many opportunities, it can also expose children and young people to risks, including of content, contact and conduct, such exposure to pornography, grooming, bullying, sexting, sexual harassment and excessive use. The internet can also magnify peer pressure and create constant comparison that places unrealistic demands on young people, for example around body image and popularity. This can have a significant impact on young people’s self-worth and self-esteem and the way young people build relationships.
  • We all have a responsibility to work collaboratively to promote children and young people’s wellbeing online, and there is a key role for everyone to play, including industry, educators, policymakers, parents, carers and young people themselves. It is essential we address this on a society-wide level, with improved support and education for young people to promote their wellbeing, self-esteem and socio-emotional skills, as well as steps from industry to fulfil their duty to create an online environment that supports the wellbeing of children and young people.

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