Chief medical officer accuses social media companies of putting ‘profit before children’

Chief medical officer accuses social media companies of putting ‘profit before children’

Chief medical officer accuses social media companies of putting ‘profit before children’

 

Video report by ITV News National Editor Allegra Stratton

The chief medical officer for England has accused social media companies of putting “profit before children”.

Professor Dame Sally Davies’ comments come as she, along with the UK’s other top doctors, issued a number of recommendations to address concerns over how social media is affecting young people’s mental health.

Dame Sally said it was time for social media companies to start self-regulating content, and, if they failed to take control, for the government to introduce tighter legislation.

She told ITV News: “They have put profit before children. I believe that they need to start now, voluntarily, sorting this out and if they don’t sort it, it’s clear government, on behalf of the people, will have to take action.”

The advice from the UK’s chief medical officers forms part of a “precautionary approach” by officials, following an independent review on the effect of screen and social media use in children and young people.

It is particularly resonant for the mother of 16-year-old Lani Clarke who took her own life on 7 February 2018.

After her death, her mother Bonnie Mellor discovered she had logged into a suicide chatroom and looked at self harm images online.

Ms Mellor told ITV News that she “wasn’t aware that that stuff was available and existed online”.

She said: “She was already struggling. I think it could only have helped compound those feelings and emotions she had.

“And when you’re constantly bombarded by a stream of damaging, harmful images and the language that’s used online, that can only have helped her on her downward spiral.

“We had no idea she was struggling with her mental health and to see the kind of stuff she was looking at, is just incredibly worrying as a parent.”

 

Read More: https://www.itv.com/news/2019-02-07/ban-phones-at-bedtime-and-meal-times-uks-top-doctors-advise-parents/