Mental health

At a glance

Social media, smartphone use and self-harm in young people

Lead researcher

Dr Rina Dutta


King's College London



Amount awarded


Last updated



Self-harm is a major public health problem, with more than one in 10 young people in the UK thought to have self-harmed.

The reasons behind self-harm are complex, and there is some evidence to suggest a link between self-harm and the impact of social media on mental health.

Dr Rina Dutta’s research will study the mechanisms of social media and smartphone use that underpin self-harm in young people. For instance, whether it's excessive use, night-time use (and the associated impact on sleep), cyberbullying or a combination of factors that increase risk of self-harm. The researchers are also interested in the ways in which social media and smartphone use may change in the time leading up to a self-harm episode. They will also investigate how self-harm is related to smartphone addiction, sleep quality, depression, anxiety, loneliness and bullying over a one-year follow-up period.

A better understanding of these factors will help with predicting future episodes of self-harm, and developing targeted interventions.

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