A mental health specialist from Nottingham believes that parents should be able to see what their children are up to online and schools could give them information to help manage the problem.

Jane Oakley from Nottingham Trent University was speaking after it was revealed that Health Secretary Matt Hancock will meet Instagram boss Adam Mosseri over the social platform’s handling of online material promoting self-harming and suicide.

This comes after the suicide of teenager Molly Smith who was exposed to content online.

Ms Oakley said: “Sensitivity screens might make parents and adults more aware, so it could help.”

The sensitivity screens would mean that certain images would appear blurred and would carry a warning to users that they might open up sensitive content.

  • About 93% of teens access the Internet, and most of them use a site for social interaction – a place where they can share creations, tell stories, and interact with others.
  • 24% of teens are spending more than 15 hours a week online. 35% of all teen girls blog, compared with 20% of online boys.
  • Most teens think that they are now an integral part of the system of communication which they use to conduct their lives.                                                                          Data from drpfconsults

She added: “Young people are particularly vulnerable. When people rely on approval from friends it comes through social media such as likes on Instagram. (This) can really impact negatively on people especially if they have a vulnerability such as autism.”

A white paper, expected to be issued by the government in winter 2019, will set out guidelines for social media companies for its users.

Reports from the Children’s Commissioner for England and House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have asked social media firms to become more responsible for the content on their platforms.