According to a recent study, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can actually have a beneficial impact on a mental well-being of a kids and others alike.
After analysing evidence from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Data, researchers found using social media helped children with their social skills along with collaborating better with peers.
Apart from this, the researchers noted that teenagers with mental health problems end up seeking support from charities through the internet as well.
Their report was published by the Education Policy Institute which states the commitment made by the Prime Minister in the Queen’s speech to make mental health a government priority amid growing mental health crisis.
“Studies have also identified some evidence of a beneficial impact on well-being, and young people recognise the value of opportunities to connect online,” researchers concluded.
However, several risks are even involved such as cyber bullying, access to harmful content and sharing of private information.
Around 37.3 per cent of 15 year olds in the UK are classed as extreme internet users who spend more than six hours online which is higher than the average and about 94.8 per cent of British 15 year olds use social media before, during and after school.
This evidence points towards extreme use of social media and the harmful effects it can have on young people.
People classed as extreme internet users were more likely to be bullied as compared to moderate internet users. “Equipping young people with sufficient digital skills to help them navigate the internet and new technologies safely is vital,” the study reported.
Restricting access to the internet hinders the development of skills but reduces the chance of experiencing online risks.
Moderate use of social media was advised but more research is required to determine the relationship between mental health and social networking.
The fast changing nature of the web has caused government ministers to be unable to keep up with responses to protect young people from online risks and build resilience in them against such risks.
“This report points to the need for a greater understanding of how to build resilience in young people as they navigate this relatively unchartered territory,” said David Laws, executive chairman of the EPI.
“Government policy should therefore focus on what can be done at a national level to invest in further research and to support the industry, families and schools to build this resilience in young people,” he further added.
Emily Frith, director of Mental Health at the institute, added: “This report highlights how social media, when used in moderation, can have a beneficial impact on young people.
“While we also find a negative link between excessive social media use and young people’s mental well-being, there is no evidence that it is the direct cause of such problems.”
“It was up to schools and families as well as the social media industry to ensure such platforms are being used responsibly,” said Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers.
He further added that the link between excessive social media use and a higher chance of mental health issues is what will alarm parents.
The social media industry needs to start behaving responsibly and even empower parents about the best ways to safeguard and support their children online.