Prince William warns youngsters of the risks of social media

Prince William has made a surprise visit to a London school to highlight the mental health risks associated with social media.

Stop, Speak, Support

The visit was part of his Stop, Speak, Support campaign, which aims to tackle cyberbullying. Working with tech companies, social networks, charities and young people, he has put together a checklist of advice, aimed at 11 to 16-year-olds, which outlines what to do if they experience or witness cyberbullying.

The prince was joined by musician Professor Green, who is an outspoken mental health advocate, and members of the band The Vamps, who took part in workshops with pupils.

‘Online fakeness’ and the risks of social media

In addition to cyberbullying, Prince William also addressed the issue of ‘online fakeness’. He expressed concern over how ‘touched up’ pictures could be affecting young people, and particularly young girls. Talking to one of the pupils, he said “Don’t try and recreate or think that’s what you’ve got to aim for – there’s a lot of fakeness online so don’t worry about that.”

Filters replacing fillers

His remarks come at a time when women are said to be abandoning cosmetic surgery in favour of online photo filters. Research by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons indicates that photo editing tools – such as filters used on Instagram and Snapchat – mean fewer people “see the need” for facial procedures.

But popular photo editing tools can’t change our body shape, which could explain the fact that body augmentation procedures are on the rise.

Facial dysmorphia

Jo Hemmings, a psychologist who works with a well-known cosmetic surgery clinic, said photo filters and ‘selfie’ culture have made many people more critical of their self-image. She added that this has “undoubtedly” caused a rise in anxiety disorders like body or facial dysmorphia.

The prince’s Stop, Speak, Support campaign forms part of his wider quest to promote better mental health, and break down the stigma that still surrounds the issue. In 2017, William and the Duchess of Cambridge formed Heads Together, an organisation that raises awareness of mental health issues.