UK’s Imperial College Informs Policymakers About Online Harms And Digital Wellbeing
The forum coincided with the launch of Digital Wellbeing 2020, an independent national study undertaken by Cybersmile which explored the perspective of 1,000 12 to 16-year-olds on important topics such as smartphone addiction, parental and school support, screen-time and other key indicators identified by Cybersmile as areas of potential risk to young people’s mental and physical wellbeing. If you are affected by anything touched on within this article, follow the links to our various support services or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to start using Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant.
London’s Imperial College recently held a forum to discuss the effects of online harms and their impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. A panel of experts, researchers and governmental organizations including the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Home Office, the Mental Health Foundation and the Samaritans, attended the forum to help develop strategies for policymakers dealing with the protection and safety of internet users and young people.
Dr Dasha Nicholls from Imperial’s Department of Brain Sciences spoke of the impact of online harms on child and adolescent mental health, outlining how harmful content can trigger or worsen mental health issues such as eating disorders, depression and self-harm. Other contributing factors also outlined include the strive for perfectionism which can lead young people to seek the unattainable, and excessive screen time.
The forum coincided with the launch of Digital Wellbeing 2020, an independent national study undertaken by Cybersmile which asked 1,000 12 to 16-year-olds about important topics such as smartphone addiction, parental and school support, screen-time and other key indicators identified by Cybersmile as areas of potential risk to young people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“Cybersmile’s Digital Wellbeing 2020 report provides valuable insights into many of the points raised by the panel. We know from our research that there is work to be done in all areas of online harms including increased investment in education and support for young people, parents and educators.”
Dan Raisbeck, Co-founder, The Cybersmile Foundation
The findings of the Cybersmile Digital Wellbeing 2020 report provide further insights relating to young people’s relationship with technology. Key findings include:
- 60% of young people feel that the time they spend online negatively impacts other important areas of their life including sleep, diet, exercise and study.
- 46% of young people consider themselves addicted to their smartphone.
- Over half (51%) of young females consider themselves addicted to their smartphone.
- 42% of young people consider their parents to be addicted to their smartphones.
- 35% of young people feel that internet and social media use negatively affects their mental and/or physical health.
- 18% of young people would like their parents to help them more with reducing the amount of time they spend online.
- Over a quarter (27%) of young people feel that their parents would not know how to help them with online related problems.
- A third (33%) of 16-year-olds feel that their parents would not know how to help them with online related problems.
- 30% of young people feel that their school would not know how to help them with an online related problem.
- 18% of young people do not feel comfortable going to their parents with an online related problem.
- Over a quarter (27%) of 16-year-olds do not feel comfortable going to their parents with an online related problem.
- 12% of 13-year-olds feel that their parents’ internet social media use has affected their ability to look after them.
The forum concluded with panellists agreeing that children and young people must be at the heart of social media design practices going forward – as policymakers continue to consider these crucial issues. Recommendations from the panel include further development of intervention based social media support tools for vulnerable users, as well as more support and education for parents and schools to help engage children in important conversations about their digital wellbeing.
If you are affected by anything touched on within this article, we can help you. Visit our Help Center or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to open Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant. To learn more about Cybersmile and our work, please explore the following recommendations:
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