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30 April 2018
By Rebecca Avery

Inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health launched

The Commons Science and Technology Committee has announced an inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. The committee says it wants to hear the views of young people themselves, as well as of teachers and youth workers.

Chairman, Norman Lamb, said it was vital to assess the benefits and risks; “Social media and smartphones are increasingly being used by children and young people. 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.

The committee is particularly keen to hear details of any initiatives undertaken, by children, schools and youth organisations, to help young people cope with the demands of the digital world.

Other issues the MPs would welcome thoughts on include:

  • the wellbeing benefits from social media usage, including any apps that provide mental-health benefits to users
  • the physical or mental harms from social media use and screen-use, including safety risks and the extent of any addictive behaviour
  • any measures being used, or needed, to mitigate any potential harmful effects of excessive screen-use
  • what monitoring, controls or regulation are needed and where responsibility and accountability should lie for such measures
  • areas that should be the focus of any further research

Schools, children and young people, professionals or other organisations who would like to submit written views to the inquiry should do so – in no more than 3,000 words – through the committee’s inquiry page by 6 April.

Schools and settings may find this to be a valuable opportunity to work together with children and young people, to explore their views and experiences in the online world and to formulate a response.