15 June, 2024
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NSW Government leads the way on social media summit

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The NSW Government will host a social media summit to address the increasing harm online platforms are having on children and young people.

Scheduled for October 2024, the summit will bring together senior officials, policy makers, academics, as well as representatives from other jurisdictions, leading social media platforms and digital technologies.

The summit will aim to examine the latest evidence and develop a response to growing community concern about the mental health impacts of social media, especially for young kids.

The NSW Government recognises that social media platforms provide benefits through increased access to social connection, however there is also a significant body of evidence detailing negative impacts on young people.

A study found that adolescents who spent more than three hours per day on social media faced double the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression and anxiety.  

Young people also have significant safety concerns in the online environment relating to contact from unknown people, privacy issues, cyberbullying, and security:

  • 31 per cent of 16–19-year-old Australians report being victims of image-based sexual abuse.  
  • Around 66 per cent of young Australians expect to encounter privacy or security issues and 
  • 85 per cent think it’s likely they will have negative interactions with strangers. 

The summit will provide an opportunity for the NSW Government to hear from a wide range of experts and importantly, from young people to understand what can be done to support safety and wellbeing.

NSW community members will be invited to add their voice to the conversation on social media through the Have Your Say platform in the lead up to the summit. 

The NSW Government will collectively use the findings to inform any regulatory and legislative changes.

The summit is one of many measures the NSW Government is putting in place to minimise the negative impacts of social media and devices on young people including:

  • A mobile phone ban in all NSW public schools implemented in October 2023.
  • A $2.5 million research fund to investigate the impacts of excessive screen time, video games and mobile phone use on young people and their learning.
  • Recruiting 250 additional school counsellors as part of the NSW Labor Government’s election commitment to student wellbeing.
  • A review into evidenced-based practice and school policy which can address school student’s online behaviour led by NSW Chief Behaviour Advisor Professor Donna Cross.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said:

“I know the biggest issue facing parents is kids access and exposure to devices and social media – its certainly a conversation happening in my own household.

“I hear from parents all the time – they are worried about their kids seeing something they can’t unsee, online bullying, online predators, and the general increase in anxiety about what other friends say, do and show on their on social media.

“I’m convinced we need more conversations and solutions for parents, schools and communities about how to manage this. This summit will bring together experts and parents alike to talk about what more we can do to protect the wellbeing of our children.”

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said:

“Young people are accessing social media earlier and earlier, which is why it is vital we facilitate a discussion about what is the best path forward.

“Many families are concerned about the impact social media has on their children – whether that be on their schooling, or their mental health.

“Banning mobile phones in public schools has been a positive start for NSW and it’s important we also look at the broader impact of social media.”

Minister for Youth Rose Jackson said:

“It’s critical that young people are part of shaping the social media conversation in NSW – from what they love about it, to what isn’t working.

“We know young people are prolific on social media – these channels are important to platform ideas and build communities. In turn, issues such as body image, increased anxiety and bullying are common themes young people are exposed to.

“There is substantial evidence that social media harms young people’s mental health and safety. It our job to step up to help protect young people. We will collaborate with the next generation to help strike a better balance and to ensure the views of young people are included in these important reforms.”

Chris Minns

Premier of New South Wales

Prue Car

Deputy Premier of New South Wales

Minister for Education and Early Learning

Minister for Western Sydney

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