Wales politics

Social media images hit self-esteem, says Plaid AM

People on phones Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bethan Sayed is concerned that altered images and filtered selfies on the internet are damaging mental health

An AM has spoken of her personal experience of how social media can affect users' self-esteem.

Bethan Sayed said altered images and filters on selfies on the internet were damaging some people's mental health.

She said she had felt low herself because of images she has seen online.

The Plaid Cymru AM led a debate on the issue in the Senedd on Wednesday where she called for more regulation, and for a conversation in society about the impact of being online.

Mrs Sayed said: "Quite often, [social media] can be harmful because people will be doctoring images, they'll be photo-shopping them, we'll be putting filters on Instagram just to show people that we have these perfect lives - but that isn't the reality.

"Many young people in my area come to me and say they feel isolated and that social media adds to that mental health and anxiety that they have in their lives."

Image caption Bethan Sayed said altered images online can contribute to young people feeling isolated

"Even myself at the age of 37, you still have those days when you feel low in self-esteem because you've seen something online," she said.

"You see a picture of a celebrity before and after a diet and that makes you feel negatively about yourself."

She told the debate: "If I feel like that... then what do our young people feel like when they feel constantly bombarded with these images?"

During the debate, Ms Sayed called for wellbeing classes and workshops in schools.

Minister for Finance Rebecca Evans told AMs the Welsh Government has published an online safety action plan, and has produced educational resources on the topic.

"We hope to show children and young people how they can instead develop a positive sense of themselves in the world," she said.

Social media companies say they are working hard to keep their platforms safe.

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