Under new guidelines, questions on screen use will be core part of NHS psychiatric assessments for young people
'Children and young people with mental health problems will be routinely asked about their use of social media under new guidance being issued to NHS psychiatrists.
Under-18s seeking help with conditions such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders will be questioned to see whether using Facebook, Instagram or other platforms is causing or exacerbating their illness.
As a result, when they first meet young people, psychiatrists will ask if accessing such sites is affecting their sleep, performance at school, mood or eating habits.
They will try, for example, to establish whether troubled young people have spent time on sites that promote self-harm or encourage anorexia.
Parents will also be asked what devices are in their homes, which ones their child uses and how often, and whether their offspring look at screens during meals or while adults are doing chores.
The guidance has been issued by the Royal College of Psychiatrists at a time of growing concern that long hours spent on social media, and some of its content, are damaging young people’s psychological health.
It is the first time the RCP, which represents psychiatrists professionally and sets standards for the profession, has advised members to investigate how much social media has added to young patients’ difficulties.
The government was due to publish a white paper next week outlining plans to make consumption of social media safer, including imposing on platforms a new duty of care towards their users. But it has been postponed because of fears that it would receive little media coverage with the focus on Brexit.'
Read more: Under-18s with mental health issues to be asked about their social media use