dailymail.co.uk Friday 16th May
– Report warns that progress on child mental health is being erased
– Finds computers and the internet is largely to blame for problems
– Harm peaks with over four hours online, but starts at very low levels
– One in ten children now has mental health problem, claims report
Overuse of the internet is causing mental health problems for children, government health advisers have warned.
Each hour spent in front of a computer puts them at greater risk, they say.
As a result, children face mental illnesses and social problems such as loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and heightened aggression.
Public Health England, which issues guidance on good health to the NHS, says there is a clear relationship between the amount of time spent on social media sites such as Facebook and ‘lower levels of well-being’.
The link becomes particularly striking when children spend more than four hours a day in front of a screen – but it kicks in even at very low levels of use.
In a damning dossier the health body lays bare the worsening toll of mental health problems on our children, saying computers and the internet are largely to blame.
Its report, submitted to MPs, warns starkly that huge improvements in children’s wellbeing over the past two decades had now been ‘curtailed and may be in reverse’.
One in ten children now has a mental health issue, and a third of teenagers feel ‘low, sad or down’ at least once a week.
Chillingly, 750,000 teenagers believe things are so bad that they have ‘nothing to live for’. The report also notes that the number of calls to ChildLine about online bullying, suicidal thoughts and self-harm have soared in recent years.
Public Health England suggested that parents should be particularly worried about their child’s mental health if they spend more than four hours a day in front of a screen.