Cheltenham's MP, Alex Chalk, is asking Cheltenham’s young people to tell Parliament about their experiences with social media as he prepares for a ground-breaking inquiry into cyberbullying.
Mr Chalk said: “I’m holding an inquiry in Parliament on the impact of social media on the mental health of young people. I’ve been joined by two great children’s charities, The Children’s Society and YoungMinds. The Inquiry will explore what social media companies can do to protect young people using their sites, particularly from the scourge of cyber-bullying.
“As part of that inquiry, we’ve just published an online survey. We want to hear directly from young people about their experiences on social media. This is a great chance for Cheltenham’s voice to shape a national investigation.”
The online survey has been designed and produced by the charities specifically for the Inquiry. It can be accessed through the YoungMinds website http://www.youngminds.org.uk/cyberbullying.
The survey is open to all young people aged 11 and 25. The survey is entirely anonymous and should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete. Each response will be invaluable to finding out what is going on social media platforms.
Speaking on the survey and inquiry, Mr Chalk commented:
"Social media can create instant heroes. But it does have a darker side. Cyber bullying and the risk of grooming are well documented, but there are many other side effects which can be equally as destructive. 12% percent of children who spend no time on social networking websites have symptoms of mental ill-health. But the figure rises to 27% percent for children glued to sites for three hours or more a day."
"I’m grateful to The Children’s Society and YoungMinds for agreeing to work with me on this critical area. I don’t think we fully understand the adverse effect that social media can have on young people’s mental health. I hope our Inquiry, including this survey, can go some way towards filling that gap in knowledge."
Sam Royston, Policy Director at The Children’s Society, said:
''Young people tell us that negative experiences online can have a real impact on their self-esteem. The Children’s Society’s own research has shown the damaging consequences that bullying can have on young people’s wellbeing, and increasingly this doesn’t end when children are picked up from the school gates, but can continue anytime and anywhere, via social media.
‘'While the internet can be a positive force in children’s lives, we urgently need a better understanding of how what they see and experience in the online world – from unrealistic images to cyber bullying – affects their mental health, and what we can do to protect them. This inquiry presents an important opportunity to explore what social media companies can do to make sure that their channels provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all. We are excited to be partnering with YoungMinds to support Alex Chalk with this timely inquiry.’'
Sarah Brennan OBE, Chief Executive of YoungMinds said:
''We are delighted to be working with the Children’s Society to support Alex Chalk MP in his inquiry into the effects of social media on children’s mental health. Young people are spending more and more time online, and although social media usage can provide several emotional and social benefits for young people, it also creates its own unique set of pressures. Social media companies clearly have an important role to play in supporting young people to be able to navigate online interactions in a positive and safe way.’'