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Popular social media sites ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young peoples mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young peoples mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young peoples feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate childrens and young peoples body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

The findings follow growing concern among politicians, health bodies, doctors, charities and parents about young people suffering harm as a result of sexting, cyberbullying and social media reinforcing feelings of self-loathing and even the risk of them committing suicide.

Its interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing. Both platforms are very image-focused and it appears that they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people, said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, which undertook the survey with the Young Health Movement.

She demanded tough measures to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young peoples mental health and wellbeing. Social media firms should bring in a pop-up image to warn young people that they have been using it a lot, while Instagram and similar platforms should alert users when photographs of people have been digitally manipulated, Cramer said.

The 1,479 young people surveyed were asked to rate the impact of the five forms of social media on 14 different criteria of health and wellbeing, including their effect on sleep, anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-identity, bullying, body image and the fear of missing out.

Instagram emerged with the most negative score. It rated badly for seven of the 14 measures, particularly its impact on sleep, body image and fear of missing out and also for bullying and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. However, young people cited its upsides too, including self-expression, self-identity and emotional support.

YouTube scored very badly for its impact on sleep but positively in nine of the 14 categories, notably awareness and understanding of other peoples health experience, self-expression, loneliness, depression and emotional support.

However, the leader of the UKs psychiatrists said the findings were too simplistic and unfairly blamed social media for the complex reasons why the mental health of so many young people is suffering.

Prof Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives.. We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media good and bad to prepare them for an increasingly digitised world. There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message.

Young Minds, the charity which Theresa May visited last week on a campaign stop, backed the call for Instagram and other platforms to take further steps to protect young users.

Tom Madders, its director of campaigns and communications, said: Prompting young people about heavy usage and signposting to support they may need, on a platform that they identify with, could help many young people.

However, he also urged caution in how content accessed by young people on social media is perceived. Its also important to recognise that simply protecting young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution. We need to support young people so they understand the risks of how they behave online, and are empowered to make sense of and know how to respond to harmful content that slips through filters.

Parents and mental health experts fear that platforms such as Instagram can make young users feel worried and inadequate by facilitating hostile comments about their appearance or reminding them that they have not been invited to, for example, a party many of their peers are attending.

May, who has made childrens mental health one of her priorities, highlighted social medias damaging effects in her shared society speech in January, saying: We know that the use of social media brings additional concerns and challenges. In 2014, just over one in 10 young people said that they had experienced cyberbullying by phone or over the internet.

In February, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, warned social media and technology firms that they could face sanctions, including through legislation, unless they did more to tackle sexting, cyberbullying and the trolling of young users.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/19/popular-social-media-sites-harm-young-peoples-mental-health

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Michelle Obama savages Trump administration for gutting her legacy

Former first lady attacks administrations reversal of regulations to help improve school lunches: Think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap

Michelle Obama has made her strongest political intervention since leaving the White House, stating bluntly at a health conference: Think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap.

One of the former first ladys signature legacies was an effort to reduce childhood obesity. Earlier this month, Donald Trumps administration froze regulations that would cut sodium and increase whole grains served in school meals.

We have a lot more work to do, for sure, but weve got to make sure we dont let anybody take us back because the question is, where are we going back to? Obama told a Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington.

This is where you really have to look at motives, you know. You have to stop and think: why dont you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you?

The remarks prompted cheers and applause from a packed hotel ballroom. Seemingly liberated from her official role, Obama was by turns combative, exasperated, feisty, incredulous, passionate, peeved and sardonic.

Obama demanded: And why is that a partisan issue? Why would that be political? What is going on? You know, now thats up to moms. Moms, think about this. I dont care what state you live in. Take me out of the equation. Like me, dont like me, but think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap. Why would you celebrate that? Why would you sit idly and be OK with that?

Because heres the secret: if somebody is doing that, they dont care about your kid, and we need to demand everyone to care deeply about kids. Thats all we have. So we should be driving this and every elected official on this planet should understand: dont play with our children. Dont do it.

Along with the delay in nutrition standards for school lunches announced by the US agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, the Trump administration has also postponed rules instructing restaurants, grocery stores and other outlets to put calories counts on their menus.

Evidently riled, Obama continued: You shouldnt know what youre eating. Think about that. Stop there, think about that. You shouldnt know what youre eating. Youre OK with that? Do you know people who are OK with that? I mean, I just find myself thinking, this isnt my fight, you know, this is where youve got to look yourself in the eye.

We need to look our neighbours in the eye and kind of go: What is going on? Because this just isnt that complicated, you know. Just tell me whats in my food. Why is that a problem? So you have to ask yourself, whats going on, because I dont get it. I dont understand it.

Sam Kass, a former White House chef and senior policy adviser for nutrition who was interviewing Obama, noted suggestions that an update on nutrition facts labels on food packages could also be slowed.

Obama interjected, with sarcasm: Keep families ignorant. Thats all Im hearing. You dont need to know whats in your food. You cant handle that, Mom. Just buy this, be quiet, spend your money, you buy this, dont ask us about whats in your food, you know. How does that feel? How does that feel? This isnt information that you should know. We shouldnt change a label to make it clearer and easier for you to just break down what youre buying.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/12/michelle-obama-trump-school-lunches-childhood-obesity

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Teenager dropped by football club loses post-traumatic stress claim

Sen Cookes father says his sons dream of playing in the UK was harmed when he was denied the opportunity to play in front of talent scouts

An Irish teenager has lost a case taken against his former football club, where he claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after he was dropped from the team as a 13-year-old.

Sen Cooke, 18, sued Carrigaline United over alleged ill treatment by coaches at the club. Cooke told Judge Sen ODonnabhain at Cork circuit court that he was a good player who hoped to play professionally in Britain, but was not given the chance to play in front of talent scouts after he was allegedly dropped.

His father, Declan Cooke, brought a vote of no confidence against the clubs coaches in the 2012-2013 season, the Irish Independent reports. He lost by a vote of 9 to 2.

Tim Mawe, who succeeded Declan Cooke as manager of the club in 2011, said everything possible was done to accommodate Sen.

Mawe said Sen played regularly during the successful 2011-2012 season, but he was told by other parents that there was non-stop complaining about the clubs management from his father.

The court heard Mawe was very hurt when Cooke brought the vote of no confidence against him, but rejected suggestions from barrister Matthew Maguire that he took any bad feelings out on Sen. We were volunteers. We were doing a great job. It was hurtful. There was no appreciation. He was the same as any player. We picked on merit.

Mawe said Sen was injured in the summer of 2012, missed a lot of pre-season training as a result and had to come off the pitch one time because he was injured.

Sen Cooke told the court that before a game in 2012 Mawe pulled him aside and said that he was not good enough to play. Mawe denied this, saying Sen Cookes mother arrived at the match and once she realised her son was not playing there was a huge commotion.

Maguire told the court that Cooke was not allowed to play during a match which was attended by a talent scout from the English club Aston Villa.

The judge said it was an emotional and difficult case and that Declan Cooke was undoubtedly a caring parent but was not over-blessed with insight.

In dismissing the case ODonnabhain said Mawe appeared to be conscientious and truthful.

In a statement published on Twitter, Sen Cooke said he had no regrets in taking the case. We wanted justice to be served, he wrote.

Cooke added that he had to leave the club I played for and loved since the age of six as a result of being dropped from the team.

Im very proud of my parents for taking the stand for me and sticking up for what was the right thing to do … We feel justice has been served as this case has now been exposed and we can move on from these traumatic years and leave this case behind us.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/30/teenager-dropped-by-football-club-loses-post-traumatic-stress-claim

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