Support from a doctor - wherever you are
Many popular social media sites contribute to issues such as anxiety and depression – particularly in younger users. If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, our virtual doctor service means they can have a discreet consultation with a doctor at a time and place that works for you all – they can even do it from their bedroom.
The effect on mental health of growing up in a digital world
The World Health Organisation reported that half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, and three-quarters by the age of 25. In fact, 10-20% of children and adolescents around the world are currently experiencing a mental health problem1 – so learning how to cope with life’s challenges from as young as possible is a vital skill. It’s called ‘resilience’.
We start building resilience at a young age, and our experiences influence how we view and navigate the world around us. Just as children and young people need guidance and support in the real world, they need it in the digital one, too.
The internet has revolutionised the way we connect and interact with each other and can be a positive, enriching experience when it’s used in moderation alongside plenty of face-to-face interaction. However, a 2019 study by OfCom found that 18% of 8 to 11-year olds, and 69% of 12 to 15-year olds have their own social media profiles on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat2. And a recent poll by the American Academy of Pediatrics , found that 22% of teenagers log on to their favourite social media site more than ten times a day, which means that a large amount of their social and emotional development is taking place online3.
Three ways young people’s mental health is impacted by growing up in a digitally dominated world:
- A survey looking at children across eight countries found that 81% of children who had a phone with internet access used it to go on social media4.
- Being constantly available means young people are unable to disconnect mentally when it comes to real life.
- Children can miss out on developing critical social skills if most social interaction is happening online.
- Frequently viewing photos and videos of the so called ‘perfect body’ can lead to decreased self-esteem and decreased life satisfaction.
- Children and young people can be left feeling dejected and inadequate when they don’t receive recognition and validation from their peers through the number of followers, views or likes they receive.
- Bullying of any kind can cause profound psychosocial outcomes including depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and tragically, suicide.
- Victims don’t get any respite due to the 24/7 nature of social media.
Many social media sites have privacy restrictions and reporting processes in place to keep profiles and information private. For more tips on how to keep your children safe online and prevent cyberbullying, take a look at this guide.