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Social Media Addiction

27 March 2019

The Guardian has reported that MPs have suggested that social media addiction “should be considered a disease”. The term social media addiction is defined as compulsive and excessive use of social media such as platforms like Facebook or Twitter, to the extent that it is causing a detrimental effect onto your relationships, other interests and activities.

The cross-party group has asked for further research into the long term and persistent use of social media, especially in young individuals. They have called for social media giants to help fund clinical studies into this phenomenon and share anonymised data with researchers.

The UK Parliament is now actively working on providing greater scrutiny on the relationship between social media and mental health problems after the prominent campaigning by the parents of 14-year old Molly Russell. They attributed Instagram as a factor in their daughter’s suicide after she was able to view self-harm content on the platform. The politicians hope that forthcoming research would help define the excessive use of social media as a disorder and be included in the newest version of the International Classification of Diseases manual. They are aiming to create educational initiatives, establish clearer guidance to the general public and parliament is committing to outline the responsibilities of online platforms where they face consequences of not meeting the agreed standards. 

Useful contacts

  • ChildLine: 0800 1111, a 24-hour helpline for children and young people within the UK
  • The Mix: 0808 808 4994, emotional support for 16 to 25-year-olds
  • Papyrus: 0800 068 4141, provides support and information for individuals under 35 with mental health problems such as experiencing suicidal thoughts