25 June, 2024
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We need kids to have happy lives outside of their screens (Opinion Piece by Premier Chris Minns)

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As parents in the modern world, we are all grappling with the enormous role that social media plays in the life of our children.

Where previous generations were out riding their bikes, moving through nature, building their friendships in person, young people today are learning about life via various screens, on websites that have little interest in their healthy development.

To be frank, I’m concerned about the harm this is having on our kids.

Many of these sites are deliberately addictive, designed to hook impressionable minds in an endless loop of scrolling. They’re built with one goal in mind: to keep people online for as long as possible, whether it makes them happy or not.

Even worse, social media sites are designed to intensify the feelings of insecurity and self-doubt that come to all young people. They open up new forms of bullying, where cruelty is worse because it’s anonymous. And their algorithms push developing minds towards extreme views.

In fact, research has found that kids who spent more than three hours per day on social media are twice as likely to experience poor mental health, including symptoms of depression and anxiety.  

We have to ask whether this is a healthy way for kids to be growing up and maturing into healthy adults.

With that question in mind, the NSW Government will be hosting a social media summit this year, to address the impact that only platforms are having on children and young people.

Scheduled for October, the summit will bring together young people, research experts and policy makers, as well as representatives from leading social media sites.

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

This is something that families are already dealing with, within their own homes. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel uncomfortable with level of exposure children have to these platforms.

My hope is that this summit will offer a practical way forward, so young people can still enjoy the benefits of technology, while living full and happy lives outside their screens.

This opinion piece was originally published on page 7 of the Daily Telegraph on Monday, 20 May 2024.

Chris Minns

Premier of New South Wales

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