Parents need more information about effects of social media on mental health

Parents in the Scottish Borders are in need of more information about the impact social media can have on children’s mental health, local MP John Lamont has said.

Speaking in a debate in Westminster on addictive technology, he said that platforms where we “show only the best of ourselves” are making it harder for young people to feel they are achieving in life.

He also praised Scottish Borders Council for training young people in “Mental Health First Aid”.

However, the MP also said it was important not to “vilify technology”, noting that social media makes keeping in touch with friends and family easier and has resulted in greater engagement in the political system as well.

Speaking in the debate, John Lamont MP said: “With the mobile phone now an integral part of life for most, it is very easy to understand why some may become ‘addicted’ or at least overly reliant on their tech.

“It is well know that social media has an effect on mental health. The Health Secretary, just this month highlighted this very point when he announced that the Chief Medical Officer would reviewing the impact that excessive social media can have on children’s mental health.

“I very much look forward to reading Dame Sally’s findings and I hope it will help parents, especially those who do not have a good grasp of social media and the internet, to better understand how to manage their use. It is unfortunately not surprising that on platforms where we show only the best of ourselves our young people find it ever harder to feel as if they are achieving and content with life.”

Commenting on the issue, Scottish Borders Council Leader, Shona Haslam added: “The Conservative led administration of Scottish Borders Council has committed to making tackling teenage mental health its top priority.

“I am proud that we have introduced counsellors in every high school of the borders as well as trained all of our senior pupils in mental health first aid. We have to continue to support them throughout their school years to have good mental wellbeing."

 

 

A copy of John Lamont’s speech is below:

Technology, it seems, has been developing at such a fast rate in the last decade or so that politicians, parents, teachers, rules, legislation and many others are understandably struggling to keep up. With the mobile phone now an integral part of life for most, it is very easy to understand why some may become ‘addicted’ or at least overly reliant on their tech. Even in our own work as politicians, we are expected to have a constant presence online and process thousands of emails a month. I know that this is the case for many roles in both the private and public sector too. And this is not even taking into account how we use technology in our private lives or in education. Screen time is almost inevitable today, so I would like to focus my remarks on the effects of too much of it regardless of whether or not we use the term ‘addiction’.

This is because it is well known that social media has an effect on mental health. My rt hon friend, the Health Secretary, just this month highlighted this when he announced that the Chief Medical Officer is reviewing the impact that excessive social media can have on children’s mental health. I very much look forward to reading Dame Sally’s findings and I hope it will help parents, especially those who do not have a good grasp of social media and the internet, to better understand how to manage their use. It is unfortunately not surprising that on platforms where we show only the best of ourselves our young people find it ever harder to feel as if they are achieving and content with life.

However, it is very important that we do not vilify technology for all of our social ills. Our phones have helped bring about revolution in the Arab Spring. Helped document the atrocious use of chemical weapons in Syria and provided us with access to information that our predecessors could have only dreamt about. Social media has brought us all closer together and in touch with our families and friends that we would otherwise forget. People are now more engaged with their representatives and the political system as it no longer feels so out of reach.

These benefits should concentrate our minds on ensuring that addiction to our tech does not get out of hand and that people are trained to help when it does. In my constituency in the Scottish Borders, the council are training young people in ‘Mental Health First Aid’, which I hope will become an exemplar policy to others and go some way in reducing the risks of tech. I once again welcome this debate from the honourable member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.