Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives and is often blamed for having a detrimental impact on young people’s mental health.
And in a new event at Norwich Science Festival, Young Minds Ambassador and TV and radio presenter Katie Thistleton will be joined by a panel of industry experts to explore how we can have a more positive experience with the online world and better equip ourselves to use social media in a healthy way.
Hashtag: My Perfect World takes place at The Forum on Tuesday, October 22, with Katie set to be joined by NHS GP, Radio 1 presenter and mental health campaigner Dr Radha Modgil, Amy Orben, a psychological researcher at the University of Oxford and Dr Harry Dyer, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia currently focussing on Digital Sociology.
Designed to be a discussion event for both teenagers and parents, Katie hopes everyone will take away something positive by sharing and listening to each other’s experiences.
She said: “I have always had an interest in and passion for mental health awareness due to witnessing family members and friends experience mental health problems and because of my own experiences of anxiety and depression.
“Social media gets a bad reputation when it comes to being damaging for young people’s mental health and throughout my work week in, week out with young people I’ve seen that it can be both detrimental and beneficial for young people’s emotional wellness.
“In this event I want to discuss with the experts what we do know and how we can all move forward and have a more positive experience with the online world because it’s not realistic for us to think we can escape it.”
Katie and Dr Radha work together on the Radio 1 show Life Hacks, and are both involved with the Festival for the first time this year.
Dr Radha said: “The internet is not going away and online profiles are not going away, so for all of us it’s a matter of understanding that world and equipping ourselves with the right skills to be able to use it in the best way for us.
“This topic is so often talked about in only a negative way, but in my work on Radio 1 I have come across so many people who have built accounts and used them in a positive way to support other people with medical conditions and mental health issues, and empowered people to come together so they don’t feel isolated.
“We’ve all got different experiences and different takes on things, so it should make it a really lively and interesting discussion. And I think the more people who share their experiences of what’s happening online the better. As a society we are still learning about the online world and how to use it, so I think it’s really important to have these conversations.”
Hashtag: My Perfect World takes place in The Forum's Auditorium on October 22 at 7.30pm. The hour-long event is recommended for those over the age of 13, with tickets priced at £3.
Katie, who is also an ambassador for Place2Be and recently competed in a boat race alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the children’s mental health charity, added: “I know parents of the social media generation sometimes feel quite lost with it all and can be scared of it, which is why education for all is so important.
“I’m certain you will walk away feeling cleansed and like you’ve had a big old hug. I always think these types of events are like therapy, you always take something away that benefits you.”
Norwich Science Festival runs from October 18 to 26, and is coordinated by The Forum with support from partner organisations, venues and sponsors including headline sponsorship from Anglian Water.
To see the full line-up of events pick up a festival brochure from The Forum or visit norwichsciencefestival.co.uk where you can also book your tickets.