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Looking After Young People's Mental Health Online – A Guide to Improving Mental and Wellbeing

3 minute read
By Smoothwall

Technology and the internet offer endless positive opportunities to individuals – improved connection, learning, self-expression and accessing support are just a few. However, there is also a dark side…

The internet can be used to expose vulnerable users, in particularly young people, to inappropriate content and risks such as bullying, grooming, sexual harassment and excessive use. The reality of today’s society is that there is no longer a difference between the on and offline world – users are constantly connected which means there’s no hiding or escaping unwanted content! This can cause it to be a very overwhelming and pressuring place, which can have a significant impact on a person’s self-worth and self-esteem.

A number of studies have found an association between social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating issues and increased suicide risk. Furthermore, statistics published earlier this week by NSPCC highlight that the number of schools seeking help from NHS mental health services on behalf of pupils is up by more than a third in the last three years.

Whether you’re a friend, family member or a teacher, it’s important that we are all aware of how to improve mental wellbeing and know what to do if you or someone else is struggling. Smoothwall recommends following our top tips to promote positive wellbeing online:

  • Acknowledge the filters – people share content that has been specifically selected and edited to present a particular version of themselves, it’s rarely an accurate portrayal of reality.

  • Create a positive space online and think about the friends you follow – do you know your ‘friends’ in real-life, if not, why are you connected with them? If you follow ‘experts’, do they share truthful and positive content? Choose accounts that share the same motivations as you.

  • Be kind – remember that what you say online is just as relevant as in real-life, don’t do or say anything that you wouldn’t say to someone face to face.

  • Know your settings – make sure you know how change your privacy settings and how to block and report other users across all platforms.

  • Be aware of how long you’re online – it’s important to have some screen-free time and give your eyes a rest. Why not set aside some time each day to do something else e.g. physical exercise, reading a book or meditation? Also think about taking a longer break from online activity.

  • Talk to someone if you’re struggling or not enjoying it – whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague or a helpline, there is always someone happy to listen.

If you have any questions around mental health including where to go for advice and support, please visit the Mental Health Foundation.

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If you would like to find out how Smoothwall's digital safeguarding solutions, such as digital monitoring, can help identify vulnerable young people, please speak to one of our experts.

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