Young people from The Cotswold School and All Saints Academy joined Bishop Rachel at an event in the House of Lords this week to call for strengthened protections on age verification and control of algorithms and filters in the Online Safety Bill.
The young people were introduced to MPs, Peers, academics, representatives from charities, business and other organisations to ensure that their views and experiences were heard.
Profession Phillippa Dietrichs, Professor of Psychology at the Centre for Appearance Research said, “Research from the Mental Health Foundation showed that 38% of young people in the UK have compared themselves to people on social media and felt bad about themselves. Research recently from Dove has showed that 60% of young people have felt bad about themselves after looking at particularly harmful content on social media.
“Psychologists and public health practitioners have been looking at how we can harness social media for good… We’ve been partnering with lots of organisations that are in the room such as Dove, Girlguiding, Facebook, Girl Effect and other organisations to trial things like chat bots, social media marketing campaigns, e-books, short films, and Instagram TV series to try and shift the needle. Our research shows that not only is this type of content really liked by young people and engaged with, much more so than traditional mental health interventions, but it’s actually effective in improving their body confidence and wellbeing.”
Dr Luke Evans MP talked about his Body Image campaign, and Baroness Kidron regarding her insights and work with the 5Rights Foundation which works to put children’s needs and rights at the very heart of digital design.
One of the young people at the event encouraged social media companies to take up the issue, “If we change the algorithms, eventually we change people’s mindsets.”
A few highlights of the event:
Lord Parkinson said that they would be making some changes to the Online Safety Bill in the days ahead which are informed by the types of insights brought to the event on Wednesday.
Bishop Rachel says, “Over the past seven years, I have been speaking publicly about body image anxiety in young people and launched a campaign – #liedentity – challenging negative body image. We know that, for these young people, having negative thoughts about how they look can impact their entire life, causing deep unhappiness and contributing to poor mental health.
“What can often be lost as we debate policy and legislation are the voices of those young people. I want to thank students from two Gloucestershire secondary schools who shared their personal experiences at the event. We know that young people are shaped by their online experiences and interactions, so we want to make these as safe as possible. Viewing harmful content can have a long-lasting, negative impact on how they view themselves, their sense of worth and their bodies.”
A response to the event, in a live debate:
“Make age-checking meaningful. Today my Lords, we are doing just that.”
— The Diocese of Gloucester (@GlosDioc) July 10, 2023