Social media companies’ failure to tackle cyberbullying is putting the mental health of children and young people at risk, warns an inquiry from MPs and leading children’s charities.
Worryingly for parents, almost two thirds of (63%) of young people surveyed by the enquiry who had been cyberbullied said that they would not tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online.
So, what can we do about it?
Cyberbullying takes many forms; persistent unwanted messaging, threats, sharing embarrassing photos. The report highlights the addictive nature of social media: one in ten (9%) young people surveyed admitted logging on after midnight every night and one young person said it was “almost like a drug”. Young people giving evidence to the inquiry described feeling judged and inadequate if they didn’t have enough likes or followers.
Young people who are the heaviest users of social media in all its forms are most likely to have low well-being and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Links between self-harm, suicide and cyberbullying have already been established by academics. Currently there are no rules requiring social media to protect young people from cyberbullying.
There are calls for social media companies and government to act, working together to resolve these issues. Parents have a role to play, raising awareness of online dangers and knowing what/who children are connecting with online. Perhaps most importantly knowing there are many ways of getting help to get the cyber bullying to stop. The following links can help;