A new study released by the Royal Society for Public Health in London and Young Health Movement shined an intense spotlight on the impact that social media has on kids – both positive and negative impacts. The study, called #StatusOfMind, surveyed almost 1,500 young people from across the United Kingdom, asking them to score how social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram impacted 14 significant personal health and well-being issues – like anxiety, depression, self-identity, body image and emotional support. The results of the survey might surprise you.

For access to the study, head here: https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/social-media-and-young-people-s-mental-health-and-wellbeing.html

We caught up with the study’s author, Matt Keracher, from the RSPH:

RGT: How are things in the UK? How are advanced are you in understanding the issue of kids, technology, the addictive nature and impacts of social media?

MK: “I think there’s no doubt that social media addiction is a growing problem in the UK and Europe. One study from the EU suggests that 5% of young people suffer with symptoms of social media addiction. However, due to the fledgling nature of social media, having only really been around for a little over 10 years, there still needs to be much more research in this field.”

RGT: Do we need more monitoring of kids and their usage of these technologies? Is this more a parenting issue? If so, what’s the best way to implement that?

MK: “Monitoring and policing young people’s usage of social media isn’t conducive to a healthy relationship with social media platforms. Giving young people the relevant knowledge and tools to navigate the digital world in a safe way that not only protects their health but promotes it is a much better way of approaching the issue. This starts with teaching children about social media in school. The education children receive should reflect the society in which they live. Social media isn’t going away anytime soon and is part of almost every child’s life in some way; this should be reflected in their education.”

RGT: What can we expect next from the RSPH, addressing what’s a vital issue?

MK: “We are currently in the process of setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social media and young people’s mental health. This group would serve to keep the conversation going around this hugely important issues and make sure Members of Parliament and other policy makers are up to date on the latest research in the field.”

RGT: The calls to action — how important was it in not coming across as being too overbearing with kids, that people are not “spying” on them, that they aren’t being monitored?

MK: “This is very important. As mentioned previously, heavy monitoring and “spying” on young people and their social media accounts is certainly not the best approach. Empowering young people to take control of their own health online should be the main focus.”

RGT: More a comment, but I would ask for your feedback — I thought it was also very vital that you addressed the positive impacts of social media on kids. Balance is key, as researchers move forward on this front.

MK: “We definitely don’t want to totally focus on the negatives of social media. There are huge potential benefits for young people from social media. These platforms allow people to connect with others, regardless of geographical location, get emotional support from social networks in times of need and also for young people to express themselves and their identities. It’s important when looking at social media that our aim must be to promote the positive aspects as much as possible whilst mitigating the potential negatives.”

Click the below link read the redgreentree summary of the report



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