The UK Government’s Education Committee recently called for evidence on “how screen time can support and impact children’s development, wellbeing, and educational outcomes” in order to understand “the effectiveness of digital safety education in schools and the ways in which schools and parents can be better supported to manage children’s screen usage” as well as “how screen use for academic purposes is being managed in schools.” Coincidentally, the Prime Minister announced a mobile phone ban in UK schools, apparently on the grounds that they distract students from learning and facilitate cyberbullying. This was unexpected, and the relation between the proposed ban and the formal call for evidence has not been made clear. Digital Youth and Sprouting Minds, in the middle of its examination of the complex risks and opportunities for mental health associated with young people’s engagement with the digital world, respond to this.
Growing up in a Digital World: The implications on men’s mental health from both a lived experience and research perspective.
Clearly, although social media and other online sites can be harmful to the mental health of men (as they can reinforce the harmful masculine norms in our society), they also provide opportunities for social support which would not otherwise be available to them. This is something that needs to change. It is hoped that the continued growth of these supportive online communities will eventually erode the stigmas which present a life-threatening risk to men. The question that remains is how can we maximise the positive influences of these supportive online communities while minimising those that are toxic and harmful?