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Should social media addiction be treated as a disease?

Should social media addiction be treated as a disease?

Because British MPs think so.


The all-party parliamentary group, with help from the Royal Society for Public Health charity, called for more research on the mental and psychological effects of social media. The report highlights how social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are hurting the mental health and wellbeing of young people by forming an “online Wild West”.

The report calls for long-term studies that can deduce a clinical diagnosis and definition for social media addiction. It suggests following the lead of the World Health Organisation, which has proposed gaming addiction is categorised as a mental illness in the next revision of its International Classification of Diseases manual. WHO asserts that it would define anyone who has shown significant impairment in ‘personal, family, social, educational, or work lives’ because of excessive use of computer games for at least 12 months. MPs suggest in the report that a similar definition could apply to those who show behaviour like this related to social media use.


It is paramount that we protect young people to ensure they are kept safe and healthy when they are online.

MPs are suggesting that a 0.5 per cent levy on social media networks’ profits could help fund such research, as well as educational initiatives and health guidelines.

Instagram launched sensitivity screens to blur images related to graphic, suicide and self harm-related content, and blocks certain hashtags and accounts that post harmful content.