Impact of social media and screen-use on young peoples health

Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health is a report produced by the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Key quotes

Children must, as far as practically possible, be protected from harm when accessing and using social media sites. However, currently there is a patchwork of regulation and legislation in place, resulting in a “standards lottery” that does little to ensure that children are as safe as possible when they go online, as they are offline. This principle, to protect children from harm when on social media sites, must be enshrined in legislation as social media companies having a ‘duty of care’ towards its users who are under 18. Social media companies must also be far more open and transparent regarding how they operate and particularly how they moderate, review and prioritise content.

To achieve this, *the Committee proposes that the UK government introduces, through new primary legislation, a statutory code of practice for social media companies, to provide consistency on content reporting practices and moderation mechanisms*. This should be accompanied by a requirement for social media companies to publish detailed transparency reports every six months. *As well as this, when content that is potentially illegal under UK law is reported to a social media company, it should have to review the content, take a decision on whether to remove, block or flag that item (if appropriate), and relay that decision to the individual/organisation reporting it within 24 hours.* This already happens in Germany. *The report states that Ofcom is well-placed to perform the duties of the regulator and the Committee recommends that the Government resources Ofcom accordingly[1]

The Committee found that the majority of published research did not provide a clear indication of causation, but instead indicated a possible correlation between social media/screens and a particular health effect. There was even less focus in published research on exactly who was at risk and if some groups were potentially more vulnerable than others when using screens and social media.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health, parliament.uk, 31 January 2019