SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has urged people of all ages to collectively practice and encourage safer internet usage.
He was commenting amid public outcry for social media giants who own the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to tackle harmful content negatively influencing the mental health of young people.
Said the Foyle MLA: “Social media can be a wonderful tool when used with care, however harmful and at times graphic content which often slips through the net, can have a devastating impact on those already suffering from poor mental health.
“Due to algorithms, the ‘bread and butter’ of these social platforms, negative content is pushed towards those individuals already experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, essentially those most likely to engage with the content.
“It would be myopic to suggest that the onus falls on social media companies.
“Of course, they have a duty to implement tighter restrictions and review enforcement policies- yet the reality remains that some material will inevitably filter through.
“This is a global issue and as such is extremely difficult to police- perhaps an even greater task for parents of teenagers who want to afford them some degree of privacy.
“We must make a conscientious effort, as online users, to report harmful material, to practice safer online usage and remove this scourge from social platforms.
“We must also invest in public information campaigns to educate school children on how to safely navigate social media.
“It is clear we need to deliver a realistic approach to what is a labyrinthine task.
“By taking small steps to change how we use social media and by informing our young people on safe usage, together we can create safer online communities,” added Mr Durkan.