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Health experts to set time limits for how long young people should use social media

Medical experts have been ordered to draw up recommended time limits for how long young people should be on social media, Matt Hancock revealed today.

The Health Secretary said he was ‘very worried’ as a father by the growing evidence of the detrimental effect on the health of young people of social media apps.

He revealed he had instructed Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s chief medical officer, to begin preparing official guidance on safe time limits that would work in a similar way to safe alcohol limits.

Mr Hancock also demanded the social media firms do more themselves, slamming Facebook for failing to police official age limits on its products, which include Instagram and WhatsApp.  

Medical experts have been ordered to draw up recommended time limits for how long young people should be on social media, Matt Hancock  (pictured in Downing Street this week) revealed today

Medical experts have been ordered to draw up recommended time limits for how long young people should be on social media, Matt Hancock  (pictured in Downing Street this week) revealed today

The Health Secretary said he was 'very worried' as a father by the growing evidence of the detrimental effect on the health of young people of social media apps (file image).

The Health Secretary said he was ‘very worried’ as a father by the growing evidence of the detrimental effect on the health of young people of social media apps (file image).

Speaking ahead of the start of the party conference in Birmingham, Mr Hancock told the Observer: ‘I am, as a father, very worried about the growing evidence of the impact of social media on children’s mental health.

‘Unrestricted use (of social media) by younger children risks being very damaging to their mental health.

‘So I have asked the chief medical officer to bring forward formal guidance on its use by children.’

Some platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, have moved to mitigate fears of addiction by introducing wellbeing tools that enable users to monitor and restrict their time on the platform.

Public campaigns such as Scroll Free September have also been launched to encourage the public to use social media less.

The initiative from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) asked people to stop using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat in September, or to cut down the amount of time they spend on them.

Mr Hancock has instructed Dame Sally Davies (file image), the UK's chief medical officer, to begin preparing official guidance on safe time limits that would work in a similar way to safe alcohol limits.

Mr Hancock has instructed Dame Sally Davies (file image), the UK’s chief medical officer, to begin preparing official guidance on safe time limits that would work in a similar way to safe alcohol limits.

Almost two-thirds of users polled in a July survey considered taking part in the initiative and many believed giving up social media would have a positive impact on their lives, an RSPH survey found.

Mr Hancock hit out at both platforms, which share an owner, over a lack of policing of their rules on age limits.

He told the Observer: ‘The terms of reference of Facebook and Instagram say you shouldn’t be on it if you are under the age of 13. But they do nothing to police that.

‘The guidelines for WhatsApp say you shouldn’t be on it unless you’re 16. But again, they don’t lift a finger.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk