Editorial 20 Mar 2019

Another day, another glut of stories on young people and the impact of social media.

It certainly isn’t the first time we’ve done an editorial on the topic.

A report titled ‘Managing the Impact of Social Media on Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing’ has been released by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Inquiry (no more excessively long names, I promise).

Coming in at just over 30 pages, it is one of the better efforts I have seen at presenting a well-rounded and fair take on the effects of a life lived half online.

I was most impressed by how much the report is informed by the young people it discusses – this is not something that has been put together by ’grown ups’, nor is it trying to demonise social media.

Facebook (etc) took off in the UK when I was about 20 – so when I was in school, instead of debates about the pros and cons of social media, video games were under the lens.

Go back 10 years further and television was the ‘unknown’ to be scrutinised.

Go back 100 years and parents were probably worried about the detrimental effect of marbles on children’s concentration.

But there was always an element of parental control over these mediums, which is much harder to implement when even young children have access to mobile phones.

That’s why safeguarding within social media is so important, and it is reassuring that each of the ‘big 4’ have implemented their own measures, ranging from AI to detect suicidal posts to Instagram’s recent move to block content depicting self-harm.

The report considers each of these measures but then recommends further research must be undertaken, and I agree that it must.

May it be undertaken in the same pragmatic, positive way that this report was delivered, and always seek to include those it intends to protect.

Lauren Sowerbutts

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