MPs want schools to tell them how social media affects pupils' wellbeing

21st February 2018 at 09:41
House of Commons Science and Technology Committee announces plans for an inquiry into social media and young people's mental health

Schools are being asked to contribute to an inquiry by MPs into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people's health and wellbeing.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, has today announced it plans to hold the inquiry and is seeking written evidence.

It comes after an Education Policy Institute report last year revealed 95 per cent of 15-year-olds in the UK use social media before or after school, and half of 9- to 16-year-olds used smartphones 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 wellbeing.

The Life in 'likes' report from the Children's Commissioner – which called for digital literacy in schools – found that children as young as 8 were experimenting with a variety of different social media platforms.

Understanding social media

Mr Lamb said: "Social media and smartphones are increasingly being used by children and young people. It is vital that we understand the impact this is having on them – the benefits as well as the risks.

"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 6 April.

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