Philippine Church joins call for responsible social media use

Report links increased use of smartphones to depression among young
Philippine Church joins call for responsible social media use

A young Filipino watches a children's show on social media. (Photo: Joe Torres/ucanews)

A Catholic Church official in the Philippines has voiced support for calls made by a legislator to introduce responsible use of social media in the school curriculum.

The call follows reports that increased use of smartphones and social media is being linked to depression and anxiety among children and adolescents.

Philippine Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called on the Department of Education to make responsible social media use a key component in school mental health programs.

Father Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Youth, said it was a "good move" and called on the government to implement laws that are meant to boost safety for younger clients and consumers of social media.

"Stricter monitoring and periodic assessment of these platforms must be observed by all stakeholders through regular public hearings," the priest said.

Gatchalian issued the call after a news report cited an expert saying that the blue light of smartphones inhibits melatonin production and keeps young people awake at night.

"Experts have warned that the constant use of social media is one of the reasons for an increasing number of teenagers suffering from anxiety and depression," said the senator.

"It’s alarming," he said, adding that the Philippines has been tagged the "social media capital of the world."

About 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders, according to the Philippines' Department of Health.

A 2015 student health survey by the World Health Organization revealed that nearly 17 percent of respondents had attempted suicide the previous year, and almost 12 percent of the study's participants seriously considered committing suicide.

The study involved more than 8,000 high school students aged 13-17 in the Philippines.

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