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Children 'need support in dealing with mental health risks of social media'

30/06/2017 Joanna

Schools need to be empowered to support students in dealing with the impact that social media can have on their mental health and wellbeing, according to a new report.

Research from the Education Policy Institute has examined the latest evidence on the digital lives of young people, the benefits and risks associated with using social media, and the evolving nature of technology, in order to determine the best way of protecting and helping them.

It highlighted several risks linked with social media use, including cyber-bullying, the effects of excessive use, sharing of private information and exposure to harmful content, with 34 per cent of UK children having experienced at least one of these risks.

Part of the reason these risks are becoming more prevalent is that internet use is rising on the whole. It was shown that 37.3 per cent of UK 15-year-olds now classed as "extreme" internet users, logging on for six or more hours a day, while 94.8 per cent use social media before or after school - notably, both of these figures are higher than international averages.

However, although there is a correlation between extreme use of social media and harmful effects on young people's wellbeing, the report also indicated that social networks can have positive effects, such as allowing children to communicate with others, work together on school projects and access support when they need it.

As such, the Education Policy Institute said efforts to isolate young people from online risks are likely to be ineffective, making it important to instead focus on developing forward-thinking approaches to teaching children how to manage these risks better.

The report said its findings 
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