GM Thought of the Week: Protecting Children’s Mental Health Against Screen-Based Activities


GM Thought of the Week: Protecting Children’s Mental Health Against Screen-Based Activities

On 7th February 2019 a report was published by United Kingdom’s Chief Medical Officers advising the government on actions to improve and protect the mental health of children and young people when it comes to ‘screen-based activities’ i.e watching videos online, social media use, gaming and similar activities.


Whilst there is no doubt that easy access to the internet can introduce dangers to children through online bullying and access to information that could promote self-harm and suicide the report does warn that there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate a clear link between ‘screen-based activities’ and mental health problems. Dame Davies highlighted that “time spent online can be of great benefit to children and young people, providing opportunities for learning and skills development, as well as allowing young people to find support and information”.


However as rightly pointed out within the report ‘we need to take a precautionary approach’ and ensure that children are receiving advice to protect themselves against potential harm found online.

One avenue to protect children online is for the tech giants to take control and make a stand against harmful content. Just this week Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram and former Executive at Facebook) said that Instagram is ‘not yet where it needs to be’ on handling content around self-harm and suicide. Even though you need to be 13 years old to sign up, it comes as no surprise to many that children younger than 13 have their own account and therefore access to damaging content.


Adam Mosseri announced that Instagram are currently investing in technology to better identify inappropriate images and begin removing these from the platform. Not only this but there is serious need for review of their algorithms. A flaw in their system has been detected whereby a user viewing an account glorifying self harm or suicide will automatically be shown recommendations to follow similar sites. Mr Mosseri stated that they were meeting experts and academics including Samaratins, Papyrus and to talk through and try to answer some serious questions on how to protect people online.


But how can our industry help?


By ensuring we are using running COPPA compliant advertising and working with publishers that are compliant with GDPR-K.


Similarly, when we are running campaigns though platforms such as YouTube we must employ the use of tech powered solutions that include advanced contextual targeting so that we can ensure our ads are delivered to the right people in the right places.


For any assistance in this area please do not hesitate to get in touch through our website contact page.




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