Prince Harry Speaks On ‘Addictive’ Social Media During Visit To YMCA In London

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex listens to the Youth Ambassadors Mental Health Champions during a visit to YMCA South Ealing, to learn more about their work on mental health and see how they are providing support to young people in the area, on April 3, 2019 in London, England
Adrian Dennis / Getty Images

Can social media take a toll on mental health? Prince Harry thinks so. The Duke of Sussex visited the YMCA in South Ealing, London, on Wednesday, where he took a peek at some of the organization’s services and heard from staff members working to provide a safe space for young people to talk about their mental health. Harry also joined a roundtable discussion with representatives from several mental health organizations, in which he opened up about some of the mental health challenges facing youth today, according to Town & Country.

“There is too much negativity surrounding mental health, and no wonder it’s so hard for young people to actually talk about it,” the father-to-be said, noting that successes in the mental health field should be celebrated more.

Harry also mentioned that social media can affect mental health, but it is not treated as a true threat.

“Look at growing up in today’s world,” he continued. “Social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol yet it’s more dangerous because it’s normalized and there are no restrictions to it.”

The prince called for adults to be a human connection for today’s youth so that they have somewhere other than online to go when they need help.

“We are in really quite a mind-altering time, as well as an exciting time, because everyone in this room has the opportunity to make a real difference and to change the times,” Harry said.

Later, Harry spoke out against the popular video game Fortnite, commenting that it “shouldn’t even be allowed” because it only creates an addiction that keeps youth in front of computers and televisions for several hours, People reported.

The discussion was convened by the Royal Foundation’s mental health campaign Heads Together. Representatives from 12 organizations joined the chat, including Stonewall, which supports the LGBT community; Safe Lives, which assists domestic abuse victims; Ditch The Label, an anti-bullying organization; and Beat, which helps youth with eating disorders.

During Harry’s YMCA visit, the prince spoke with local parents attending classes with their children, as well as staff members to get a glimpse of the organization’s day-to-day operations. He also sat in on a ballet class, cheering on the young dancers dressed in pink tutus. Photos from the outing on Sussex Royal’s brand new Instagram account, which broke a follower record over the weekend, show Harry smiling happily at a mother with a baby and clapping at the ballet performance.

Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, are expecting their own little one’s arrival in late April or early May. The Duchess of Sussex has been busy preparing for the baby for the last few weeks as she takes a break from royal engagements.