Social Media Young People and Mental Health

The four UK Chief Medical Officers have published their independent systematic map of evidence on screen and social media use in children and young people, and recommended next steps and advice for parents and carers. Social Media Image

They have concluded that the published scientific research is currently insufficient to support evidence-based guidelines on screen time, but there is enough basis to warrant a precautionary approach and action by schools, government and technology companies.

Calling for a duty of care to be established and for a voluntary code of conduct to be agreed ahead of government legislation, the UK Chief Medical Officers have also published advice, giving tips on how to have a healthy balance with screen time.

This is based on evidence around activities that are important for healthy child development such as sleep, exercise and education.

Social media and screen-based activities can be hugely beneficial for children and young people, encouraging social interaction, education, and providing easy access to support and information but it should not intrude on activities which are proven to support healthy child development such as exercise and quality sleep.

It is essential we provide advice which strives to balance screen time with healthy living which is why we work alongside other government Departments on early intervention programmes such as PlayMatters which encourages independent play and time away from screens. 

In addition, we are prompting industry and other partners to take responsibility to ensure children are protected online.

As Chief Medical Officers we are trying to help children and young people reap the benefits of screen time while not incurring any harmful consequences.

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