Former Love Island contestant turned Government mental health ambassador Dr Alex George calls for more education on social media in schools

·2-min read
 (Dave Benett)
(Dave Benett)

Schoolchildren should be given lessons on how to use social media in a positive way and avoid trolling and online bullying, former Love Island contestant Dr Alex George has said.

The A&E doctor, who is the Government’s youth mental health ambassador, called on schools to teach children how to “curate” their social media feeds and avoid following people who make them feel bad.

Speaking on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast, Dr George said the education system needs to be overhauled, with more emphasis on real-life skills such as how to take care of yourself, rather than academic subjects.

He said: “You can’t get away from social media, so let’s prepare kids for how to use it. What is it for? How can you use it to benefit your life? Can it be used for education? Is it for passion? How can you use it in a positive way? What do you do with online trolling and bullying? That comes from education.”

The 30-year-old admitted that before he went into the Love Island villa, on the fourth series of the ITV dating show, he had 200 followers on social media, but when he left he had more than one million, and he is still learning how to cope with that. He said he tries to separate himself from the “dopamine hit” that comes when someone likes a post.

When he gives talks at universities, Dr George said he asks students how many people they follow on Instagram who make them feel bad. He said: “Loads of them come back and say 20 or 30 per cent of the people I follow actively make me feel bad. Unfollow them! Let’s teach children to think about how you curate your social media.

“Because people spend about three or four hours a day online. Let’s teach kids how to use that. If you are going to be online for three or four hours let’s have a safe space, a positive space, let’s have a productive place that’s going to benefit you in the long run.”

Boris Johnson appointed Dr George as youth mental health ambassador in February. Dr George’s younger brother LlÅ·r took his own life last year. He has spoken about how that strengthened his resolve to improve mental health services.

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