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Parents fear social media and technology more than drugs, alcohol or smoking

Key points:

  • ReachOut surveyed 890 parents with children between the ages of 12 and 18
  • 45 per cent of parents worried about social media, 42 per cent about technology
  • 25 per cent worried about their children using drugs, alcohol, smoking. Technology closely followed at 42 per cent.ReachOut chief executive Jono Nicholas said parents were worried about the everyday use of social media and technology.”Unlike some of those other products, where I guess from a parent’s point of view, you can at least try and keep them away.”Mr Nicholas said parents were concerned about the anonymity of social media.”That the harm and particularly the psychological harm can be really significant.””Those platforms are the only ones who can improve some of those safety controls,” Mr Nicholas said.”These companies have some of the smartest minds in the world. We really want them to also come to the table and say ‘here’s what’s the next step’.””They carry very significant risks and what we’re calling for is to make that device as safe as we can,” he said.”What it shows you is that for many families it’s the everyday, what we would call kitchen-table mental health issues that are causing them the most stress,” Mr Nicholas said.ReachOut said its research is nationally representative.

  • He said schools and the education system had made changes to relieve pressure on students but that more needed to be done.
  • The parents’ number one concern for their children was education and study stress.
  • Mr Nicholas compared the advent of social media with the invention of cars because both opened up new possibilities but brought new dangers.
  • “We’re certainly calling on the social media companies to do more to make those environments safer particularly for children and young people.
  • ReachOut wants technology companies to do more to protect young people.
  • “They’re really concerned about the nature of bullying that may happen on social media sites and how easy it is given that this is a product that young people are likely to use every day,” he said.
  • ReachOut surveyed 890 parents in December 2017, a month before the suicide of 14-year-old Amy “Dolly” Everett put cyberbullying on the national agenda.
  • “It’s an important part of their social network but in many instances they’re not sure if they’re safe while using social media sites,” Mr Nicholas said.
  • In comparison, 25 per cent were worried about their children using drugs, alcohol or smoking.
  • The youth mental health support service ReachOut surveyed parents of 12 to 18-year-olds about their concerns and found that 45 per cent were worried about their children’s use of social media.