The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement (YHM) have published this report, examining the positive and negative effects of social media on young people’s health, including a league table of social media platforms according to their impact on young people’s mental health.
In early 2017 (13 February to 8 May), RSPH/YHM conducted a survey of almost 1,500 young people (aged 14-24) from across the UK. The survey asked them to score how each of the social media platforms they use impacts upon 14 health and wellbeing-related issues which were identified by experts as the most significant.
YouTube tops the table as the most positive, with Instagram and Snapchat coming out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
RSPH and YHM are now calling for action from government and social media companies to help promote the positive aspects of social media for young people, whilst mitigating the potential negatives.
The report’s recommendations include:
Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – seven in 10 (71%) young people surveyed by RSPH support this recommendation.
Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support – four in five (80%) young people support.
Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated – more than two-thirds (68%) of young people support.