Mental issue fears for children using social media sites
Children who spend more than three hours a day on social media websites are twice as likely to suffer mental health issues, official data suggests.
A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found higher levels of emotional problems, issues with other children, hyperactivity and poor behaviour among youngsters who spent a lot of time on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.
The report found that between 2012 and 2013, 37pc of children spent no time on social networking websites while 56pc spent up to three hours. Around 8pc of children spent over three hours on the sites on a typical school day.
Girls were more likely than boys to spend over three hours on the sites. In 2012 to 2013, around one in 10 girls (11pc) spent over three hours on them compared with just 5pc of boys.
The report found a "clear association" between longer time on social websites and children reporting difficulties that suggest mental health problems.
Those children who spent more than three hours on social websites on a normal school day reported "significantly higher total difficulties scores" than either those who did not use social websites or who spent less time on them.
The report said: "Of those children who spent more than three hours on a social website on a normal school day, around 27pc reported high or very high total difficulties scores.
"This is more than double the proportion of those children spending no time on social websites on a normal school day (12pc) and the proportion spending up to three hours a day on a social website (11pc)."
The report went on to say social media websites are "ever-present features of social life, especially for the young".
Other research has shown a link between screen time (including television, DVDs and videos) and higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression.