Nine in 10 school leaders support changing social media laws for children amid mental health fears

Education bosses have called on the Government to change social media laws to improve mental health in children.

The warning comes as part of a new poll which shows that nine out of 10 headteachers believe social media is damaging to students’ mental wellbeing.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which published the research, looked at the opinions of more than 460 secondary school headteachers.

It found that 95 per cent felt that the mental health and wellbeing of a proportion of their pupils had suffered as a result of social media use, while 39 per cent said more than half of pupils were affected.

Likewise, almost all respondents received reports of pupils being bullied on social media, with 40 per cent saying incidents were reported on a daily or weekly basis.

Conclusively, the poll shows a desire for regulatory change. Nine in 10 said new laws and regulations should be introduced to ensure social media sites keep children safe.

These could include restricting time allowance on social media, or sanctioning social media platforms which don’t do enough to protect children.

General Secretary Geoff Barton said: “Social media can be a force for good, helping young people to connect with each other in a positive manner. But it also has a dark side which can be seen only too clearly from our survey.

“It is a technology which has grown at great speed, outstripping our ability as a society to understand and mitigate against these negative impacts. More must be done to protect young people so that they can enjoy social media safely and responsibly.”

He added: “We recognise that the government is trying to find solutions but we are not convinced that the current proposals go far enough.”

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