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Education Secretary calls for 'fewer selfies, more reality' to protect children's mental health

Education Secretary calls for 'fewer selfies, more reality' to protect children's mental health
2 min read

Social media stars should do more to protect children by focussing less on selfies and more on reality, according to Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

Damian Hinds has called on social media companies to do more to tackle the "warped view" of reality being pushed on young fans amid growing concerns for children's mental health.

His comments come after a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found 40% of teenagers had heard comments from their friends which made the worry about their bodies.

Speaking on Stop Cyberbullying Day, the minister urged popular social media stars to be "more realistic" with their posts in a bid to stop young people facing a "lifetime" of online abuse.

"These days there's a filter for everything, so much so that when something 'real' goes online it's tagged as #nofilter but there should also be #notedited," he said.

"I want social media influencers to think about what they are putting on their platform - is it honest? Is it authentic? Is it too imaged focused?

"I have always been supportive of the benefits of the internet and for many children and young people it can open up worlds that would otherwise go unexplored.

"What I am asking online celebrities for is for fewer selfies and more travel, more nature, more honesty. Use your access to educate your young followers rather than focus on body image."

From 2020, the Government will introduce compulsory lessons on internet safety for school pupils, as well as an updated curriculum on relationships and sex education in a bid to improve mental health among young people.

Mr Hinds added: "These are only pieces of the puzzle because no one seems to be immune from online cruelty.

"Whilst teachers and schools do their best to prepare and protect their students, the phone in someone's pocket is with them 24/7 - not just in school hours.

"All online influencers, social media companies, TV channels and streaming sites must take their responsiblity more seriously because their world is one we spend so much time in. We need action now to stop today's young people facing a lifetime of abuse."

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