RCPCH responds to paper on social media and adolescent wellbeing and mental health

A paper published in the Lancet finds that, for teenage girls, almost all of the effect of very frequent social media use on wellbeing was due to increased exposure to bullying and reduced sleep and physical exercise. Meanwhile, for teenage boys, the impact on wellbeing appears to be due to other indirect influences. RCPCH responds.

The paper's authors suggest that efforts should be made to reduce young people's exposure to harmful content and the impact it has on health activities (such as sleep and exercise).

Responding to the paper, a spokesperson at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

We welcome this new research, which offers further insight following our own screen time guide. The findings that frequent use of social media may disrupt activities that have a positive impact on mental health echo our own research. 

We agree with the study that preventative efforts should consider interventions to prevent or increase resilience to cyberbullying and ensure adequate sleep and physical activity in young people. This issue is evolving but we hope the questions in our screen time guide offers families some help to examine their screen time.