New polling commissioned by RSPH suggests an overwhelming demand from the UK public for tighter regulation of social media companies, with four in five (80%) believing it is needed to address the impact of social media on the health and wellbeing of young people.
These findings coincide with the launch of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) aimed at tackling the issue which took place in Parliament on 18 April.
Chaired by Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, the APPG on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing has been established to build on much-needed research into the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, shine a political spotlight on the issue, and drive constructive policy change that maximises the positives and mitigates the negatives of social media for young people.
The RSPH survey found that:
- More than half (56%) of young people (aged 18-24) say they are likely to quit social media due to concerns about its mental health and wellbeing impact, making it an equal concern with privacy and data leaks (58%) and a much greater concern than fake news (31%)
- More than half of the public (52%) say not enough is being done by social media companies to address the impact of social media on mental health and wellbeing, with two in five (41%) also saying the Government is not doing enough
- Almost half of the public (45%) say social media regulation should be achieved through a self-regulated Code of Conduct by social media companies, whereas more than a third (36%) say it should be legally enforced by Government
The APPG will be holding an inquiry throughout 2018 to build on the evidence base of the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, aimed at informing practical solutions including a proposed industry Code of Conduct. The group will be hearing evidence, views and experiences from a variety of expert stakeholders as well as young people themselves.
RSPH is providing the secretariat for the APPG and will provide expert knowledge on the back of the landmark #StatusofMind report, published in May 2017. News and updates regarding the work of the APPG and the inquiry will be shared on the APPG's webpage.
Chris Elmore MP, Chair of the APPG, said: “I am delighted to be launching the UK’s first Parliamentary group dedicated to examining the impact that social media can have on young people. For many children, teenagers and young adults, social media can help develop positive relationships, but it’s clear it can also create an emotional strain. The new APPG is an opportunity to move forward and look to solutions for how we can minimise the impact which it can have on mental health.”
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “Social media is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about mental health. With its almost universal reach and unprecedented ability to connect people from all walks of life, social media holds vast potential to be a positive catalyst for good mental health. Yet there are risks which if not addressed and countered, can cause significant problems for young people’s wellbeing.
“It is vital that we push forward the conversation surrounding social media and mental health to empower young people with the knowledge and tools to navigate social platforms in a way that protects and promotes their wellbeing. This APPG will provide a highly influential, cross-party forum to discuss both the positive and negative impacts of social media, and to put forward practical solutions which we hope the social media industry itself can be a constructive part of.”