Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has expressed concern following the publication of a new report by the English Children’s Commissioner, which highlights the negative impacts of social media on young people.

“For many of us, this report confirms our worst fears about the negative role that social media can play in young people’s lives”, said Deputy Rabbitte.

“All of us are aware of how stressful the transition from primary to secondary school can be for young people. They can often feel immense pressure to behave in a more “grown-up” manner, and may feel painfully self-conscious about their appearance.

“This report reveals that social media can often make this transition an even more stressful experience.

“Young people can become obsessed with getting ‘likes’ on social media posts, and find themselves constantly refreshing their own pages and those of others, including people they may not know at all. Being constantly engaged and in search of this affirmation is not only anxiety-inducing, but it also detracts from their ability to participate in other healthier activities, like sports or reading.

“Most of all, this report underscores the need for us all to work together to address this issue. We need better education in school and at home, so that young people can understand the danger they may be exposed to. Social media companies must be involved in this process, as they are the ones who best understand what is actually happening on their platforms.

“Every internet provider should be developing new tools to help parents control and monitor their child’s internet usage, and they should be helping parents to actually engage with these tools where they exist.

“I will be raising this issue at the Children’s Committee, and I hope that we can continue to have productive conversations about this issue”.

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