Inquiry to examine impact of social media on young people’s health

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Science and Technology Committee chairman Norman Lamb said it is vital that politicians understand the impact social media has on young people.

The Science and Technology Committee is seeking written evidence from children, schools and youth groups on the effect of social media (Peter Byrne/PA)

The Science and Technology Committee is to hold an inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health and well-being, it has been announced.

It comes after the Education Policy Institute’s 2017 report revealed 95 per cent of 15-year-olds in the UK use social media before or after school, and half of nine to 16-year-olds used smart-phones on a daily basis.

While the committee’s decision to hold the inquiry was made independently, its attention was drawn to the issue by recent reports on the effect screen-usage and social media have on children’s mental and physical health.

The Royal Society for Public Health’s 2017 ‘#StatusofMind’ report found that four leading social media platforms – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter – have a net negative impact on young people’s health and well-being.

The ‘Life in likes’ report from the Children’s Commissioner – which has called for digital literacy in schools – found that children as young as eight were experimenting with a variety of different social media platforms.

“We want to determine the scale of the issues — separating out the understandable concerns from the hard evidence, and to identify what practical measures people are already taking to boost the benefits and blunt the potential harms.

“We want to hear from schools and young people, as well as from the industry and Government.”

As part of the inquiry, the committee seeks written evidence from children, schools and youth organisations on the effect social media can have on young people, as well as what measures, controls and regulation are needed.

The deadline for submissions is Friday April 6.

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