Is social media is damaging the mental health of pupils?
New research by ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders) reports that 9 out of 10 headteachers (95%) feel that social media use is damaging the mental health and wellbeing of young people – and that there is overwhelming support for new laws and regulation to keep children safe online.
On the 9th March 2018, ASCL surveyed 460 secondary school headteachers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in January 2018. This blog provides a summary of the research. School leaders were asked about the impact on pupils of social media use over the past 12 months.
- 95% felt that the mental health and wellbeing of a proportion of their pupils had suffered as a result of social media use.
- Almost all (459 respondents) had received reports of pupils being bullied on social media, with 40% saying that incidents were reported on a daily or weekly basis.
- Almost all (457 respondents) had received reports of pupils encountering upsetting material on social media – such as sexual content, self-harm, bullying, or hate speech – with 27% saying incidents were reported on a daily or weekly basis.
- 89% had received reports of pupils being approached by strangers on social media sites.
- 93% had received reports of pupils experiencing low self-esteem as a result of seeing idealised images and experiences on social media, with 22% saying that pupils reported such feelings on a daily or weekly basis.
- 96% had received reports of pupils missing out on sleep as a result of social media use, with 32% saying they received such reports on a daily or weekly basis.
- Nine out of 10 headteachers (93%) said that new laws and regulation should be introduced to ensure social media sites keep children safe.
- and 77% said the government and social media companies should produce more information for parents.
ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said:
Social media can be a force for good … but it also has a dark side … More must be done to protect young people so that they can enjoy social media safely and responsibly.