Studies have linked heavy social media use with increased risk of anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues among children. Children and young adults often lack the critical thinking skills to be able to recognize for example fake news and edited materials. Long continuous use of social media can limit the attention span. There is also a danger of social media rewiring the reward centres in the brain, releasing dopamine when receiving likes. Social media use can also impact our memory.
For many children and young adults, however, not using social media is unthinkable. Social media are a key part of their daily lives and a major way of communicating with friends. It can also improve their digital skills. This is even more important for children that are unable to share deep personal issues, e.g. coming out as homosexual, with the people in their offline environment, or children that are unable to meet their peers offline during lockdowns such as we have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee will have to find a balance between protecting children and young adults from the harmful effects of social media and encouraging safe online practices.