There are a growing number of studies providing evidence that while internet use can and does have benefits for young people, there are some circumstances and some young people that can have negative mental health impacts from internet use. The SWGfL report Young People, Internet Use and Wellbeing: A report series screen time has reported that increased number of hours of internet use is linked with a higher chance of seeing upsetting content, receiving abusive comments or sending abuse to others and are more likely to go online because they are lonely. The Children’s Commissioner report Life in ’Likes’ has indicated that children aged 8-12 who are using social media already have concerns about whether they are pretty or cool, and about how many likes their pictures were getting. The Young Minds Safety Net: Cyberbullying’s impact on young people’s mental health report identified cyberbullying as the single biggest risk factor to mental health associated with social media use. Their findings indicate that over 60% of young people had their first social media account aged 12 and under and nearly half of the girls in the survey stated that social media had a negative impact on self-esteem. Children and young people who had a current mental health problem were three times more likely to have been cyberbullied in the last year. They also stated that there is a perceived lack of consequences for those carrying out the bullying. A study of head-teachers also found that most had experienced reports of young people suffering low self-esteem, missing out on sleep and coming across unpleasant content on a daily or weekly basis.
- Young People, Internet Use and Wellbeing; A Report Series Screen Time swgfl.org.uk/magazine/fomo-causes-young-people-to-spend-too-much-time-on/
- Safety Net: Cyberbullying’s impact on young people’s mental health. Inquiry report
- The Children’s Commissioner Life in ‘likes’
- Nine out of 10 headteachers say social media is damaging mental health of pupils