U.K. lawmakers believe its time to start taxing Facebook and Google after discovering people can be addicted to social media.
Medical professionals have been warning social media users about the risks of social media addition for years. While several tech professionals deny the connection, some psychologists say social networks like Facebook and search engines like Google are to blame.
New lawmakers in the U.K. argue social media addiction is not only a real thing, but it should also formally be classified as a disease, which in turn should subject social media companies to pay a 0.5% tax on their profits to help fix the problem, Fortune reports.
On Monday, a cross-party group of parliamentarians published their report, which stemmed from an inquiry into “managing the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.” The study went on from April 2018 and ended in January.
“Our Inquiry shows that there are aspects of social media which are positive—particularly for bringing together people with similar interests, reducing loneliness and helping communities stay in touch,” wrote Chris Elmore and William Wragg, the lawmakers who led the inquiry.
He continued, “However, there are also several aspects of social media that can have very damaging effects on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is paramount that we protect young people to ensure they are kept safe and healthy when they are online. That is why our recommendations seek to improve measures to protect the vulnerable.”
The investigation showed 12 percent of people who completely avoid social media still showed signs of mental illness. The numbers went up to 27 percent for social media users, who spend three or four hours a day using such services. According to the report, social media specifically affects the self-esteem of girls in a negative way (46% of girls versus 38% of all young people), and platforms too often show those looking for mental health support material that “glamorizes” mental illness.
Now, medical officials want social media companies to be held accountable for the lives of youth by regulating social media.