Doctors should quiz kids over excessive social media use amid fears over their mental health

DOCTORS should quiz kids over excessive social media use, new guidelines say.

It comes amid fears exposure to Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook can affect mental health.

Molly Russell
Molly Russell, 14, took her own life after viewing self-harm images on social media
Press Association Images

Children viewing self-harm images or eating disorder material could worsen an existing illness, The Royal College of Psychiatrists said.

It also warned the use of too much technology could lead to school, sleep and behavioural problems, as well as eating issues.

The RCP recommends kids stop using phones or tablets at least an hour before going to bed and avoid them at mealtimes.

It is also backing calls for an independent ­regulator, a code of conduct for social media firms and a levy to pay for research into links with mental illness.

President Prof Wendy Burn said: “Technology is moving fast and we must make sure clinicians are keeping up. Many young people’s lives are now being dominated by the online world.”

Earlier this month a report by MPs argued social media addiction is a disease.

Molly Russell, 14, viewed content linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in 2017.

Ministers are due to ­publish a white paper on social media responsibilities.
Claire Murdoch, from NHS England, said: “It should act as wake-up call.”

YOU'RE NOT ALONE

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

Claire Murdoch
Claire Murdoch, from NHS England, said the death of Molly ‘should act as wake-up call’
Twitter / @ClaireCNWL

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