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Inquiry launched into effects of social media on young people's mental health

File photo dated 03/01/18 of social media app icons. Headteachers are calling for new social media laws to keep children safe, amid concerns that youngsters' use of these sites is harming their mental health. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 9, 2018. According to a small-scale poll by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) most school leaders have received reports of pupils being bullied or being exposed to unsuitable material - such as sexual content or hate speech, with some saying this is happening on a daily or weekly basis. See PA story EDUCATION SocialMedia. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

A group of UK MPs has launched an inquiry into how to tackle the potential negative effects of social media on the mental health of young people.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Media and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing says it wants to establish the impact of social media on mental health and how the UK Government and social media giants should respond to any issues uncovered.

The group said it aims to build on a 2017 report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), which found that while social media had positive effects such as providing emotional support and helping maintain friendships it also fuelled feelings of anxiety and depression among the young.

MPs said the inquiry had four main questions it wanted to answer, including understanding what the latest evidence says about the impact of social media on young people, what constitutes a healthy relationship with such platforms and what should be done by Government and technology giants to address the issues.

APPG chair Chris Elmore MP said: "I'd highly encourage everyone who has an experience of social media and the impact it can have upon young people's mental health to submit evidence to the APPG's inquiry.”

"It's essential that we hear from all stakeholders involved in this issue including social media companies, charities, NGOs, government departments, technology developers, parents and, above all, young people themselves.”

"It's vital that we are able to look at the whole picture surrounding this growing issue so that the APPG and RSPH are able to gain a clearer picture of what aspects of social media usage need addressing most urgently.”

"Please do submit your experiences to feed into this vital work."

Social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have come under increased scrutiny following a series of scandals around fake news, data privacy and the spread and policing of explicit and extreme material on their platforms.

New research carried out by RSPH on behalf of the parliamentary group found that more than half (52%) of the UK public believe not enough is being done by social media firms to address the impact of their services on young people's mental health, with 80% in support of tighter regulation of such firms.

Pic by Yui Mok/PA Wire

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