How social media is impacting the lives of children in Calderdale

Councillors heard how social media has both positive effects and negative impacts
Councillors heard how social media has both positive effects and negative impacts

Young people are often far more advanced than their parents or carers in using social media – but they may also need more support in dealing with its effects.

A report to Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board provided members with food for thought.

They heard social media has both positive effects and negative impacts, with consideration given to how children and young people in the borough can be supported, particularly in the case of the latter.

Among statistics drawn from an All Party Parliamentary Group Report, councillors learned two-thirds of young people felt social media was a good place to look for health information.

While 12 per cent of children who spend no time on social networking websites have symptoms of mental ill health, the figure rises to 27 per cent for those who are on the sites for three or more hours a day, said the report.

It concluded: “Social media is here to stay – research is needed and continues to be undertaken regarding its impact on the mental health of children and young people.

“In Calderdale we are ensuring our young people continue to be involved in discussions around this issue regionally and nationally.”

Councillors recognised social media’s impact was much wider than a local authority concern and took in parents, carers, schools and service providers among others.

Parents, carers and children and young people had been spoken to in order to give their input into the report.

Members felt that perhaps the role of the council and schools was to ensure parents and carers were aware of supporting websites like Open Minds in order to help them support children and young people who were affected by social media alongside professionals.

Looking ahead, young people will be asked if they wish to design any questionnaires or surveys which might increase further understanding of social media use and its impact throughout Calderdale.

Children and young people’s views should always be included, not solely professionals, as with other work, they agreed.