YMCA England & Wales welcomes a new report from the Science and Technology committee. ‘Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health’, released 30 January, has concluded that social media companies must be subject to a legal duty of care to help protect young people’s health and wellbeing when accessing their sites.
The committee highlights the benefits of social media, while also revealing the potential risks children face when accessing social media. These ranged from damage to sleep patterns and body image, to bullying, grooming and ‘sexting’. Although these risks existed before social media, its rise has helped to facilitate it—especially child abuse. The Report suggests what can be done to protect young users when they are online.
Social media companies must be willing to share data with researchers, within the boundaries of data protection legislation, especially on those who are at risk from harmful behaviours. The Government should consider what legislation is required to improve researchers’ access to this type of data, to ensure that social media companies help protect their young users, identify those at risk and help improve current online safety measures.
Denise Hatton, chief executive, YMCA England & Wales says:
“It is positive to see Parliament making recommendations around digital literacy and resilience within schools. Young people are in vital need of education and guidance on the potential dangers of social media and to be equipped with the skills they need to use it safely.
“Young people are facing increasing pressures that social media exacerbates. Whether it is bullying, body confidence insecurities or mental health difficulties, for some young people, the world of social media is not a source of comfort but a catalyst for their concerns.
“Providing the right support in the right places will help young people traverse a landscape littered with negativity.”