The British Youth Council have backed calls for new measures to be introduced to protect young social media users from health harms. Members of Parliament have called for the changes in a new report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing.
The report calls for all social media companies with registered UK users aged 24 and under in the form of a statutory code of conduct regulated by Ofcom. The inquiry found pressure to conform to beauty standards perpetuated and praised online can encourage harmful behaviours to achieve “results”, including body shame and disordered eating, with 46% of girls compared to 38% of all young people reporting social media has a negative impacted on their self-esteem. Children who spend more than three hours a day using social media are twice as likely to display symptoms of mental ill health according to the research carried out.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee examined the impact social media was having on young people’s body image in 2017. Following the investigation, the committee concluded body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. The committee recommended minimum standards for social media companies should be introduced to mitigate the issue.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “Since the Youth Select Committee’s inquiry in 2017, which examined the impact social media was having on young people’s body image, it is clear the Government have not done enough to hold social media companies to account and as a result young people are still suffering.
“The Government must act to protect the mental health and wellbeing of young people.”
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on body image was gathered from a range of expert witnesses, including high-profile bloggers, social media companies, academics, teachers and mental health professionals.