Dr Niall McCrae

Wednesday, February 7 2018 at 7:30PM

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60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Dr Niall McCrae

What's the talk about?

According to the popular press, we are amidst an epidemic of mental health problems in young people. The internet, and particularly social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp, are often blamed for the rising incidence of depression in teenagers. But there is scant evidence for this. Niall McCrae, with colleagues Sheryl Gettings and Edward Purssell at King’s College London, conducted a systematic review of studies measuring social media use and depression in adolescence. A small statistically significant correlation was found, but this could be due to a minority of psychologically vulnerable young people turning to cyberspace for support. Undoubtedly there is problematic and excessive use of the internet, but the review findings do not suggest that social networking sites and instant messaging cause depression. Niall detects hints of moral panic arising from rapid technological advance and its perceived impact on society. Social media are the medium, but not the message.


Dr Niall McCrae is a lecturer in mental health at King’s College London. As well as almost a hundred papers in academic journals, Niall has written two books: The Moon and Madness, on the legendary notion of lunar influence on human behaviour, and Echoes from the Corridors, a history of nursing in the asylums.