Surge in Worklessness Among Young Men Linked to Pornography and Video Games, Says Mel Stride

Surge in Worklessness Among Young Men Linked to Pornography and Video Games, Says Mel Stride

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride blames online pornography and video games for rising worklessness among young men, highlighting a mental health crisis.


Mental Health Crisis Fuelling Economic Inactivity

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has attributed the rising worklessness among young men to easy access to online pornography and video games. 

He emphasized that these factors are significantly contributing to a mental health crisis, prompting many young men to drop out of the workforce.


Alarming Statistics

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that from January to March 2024, 900,000 young people aged 16 to 24 needed to be in education, employment, or training (NEET). 

This marks an increase from 812,000 in the same period the previous year.

YearNumber of NEETs (Aged 16-24)
January-March 2023812,000
January-March 2024900,000

Mr. Stride expressed deep concern over the “very worrying” increase in mental health conditions among young people, highlighting how social media and technology have exacerbated the issue. 

He noted that technology impacts boys’ and girls’ mental health differently, with boys being more affected by gaming and pornography and girls by unrealistic ideals portrayed on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.


The Impact on Mental Health

“For boys… things like gaming, and certainly pornography and things like that, is a more prevalent factor,” Mr. Stride told the Work and Pensions select committee.

2023 study published in the US Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that “stressful experiences, anxiety, and depression are strongly related to pornography consumption”. 

However, the links with gaming are less clear; a 2022 Oxford study indicated that video games only harmed mental health if people struggled to stop.

Mr. Stride highlighted the significant rise in mental health conditions among 16 to 24-year-olds, noting the profound impact of technology. 

He acknowledged the role of lockdowns but suggested that social media and technology play an even more substantial role.


Gender Disparities in Economic Inactivity

The ONS figures showed that young men are the primary contributors to the rise in worklessness. 

By the end of March, 99,000 additional young men were out of work, whereas the number of young women in the same age group classified as NEET fell by 11,000

About one in seven young men are considered NEET, compared to one in ten young women.

GenderIncrease in NEETs (Aged 16-24)
Young Men+99,000
Young Women-11,000

A Worsening Sickness Crisis

Britain is also facing one of the worst sickness crises on record, with more than 2.8 million people of working age not in the workforce due to ill health, including mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

This number has risen from around 2 million before Covid. Overall, 9.4 million people of working age in the UK are neither in work nor looking for a job, representing a decade high.


Government Response

In response to the crisis, Mr. Stride has unveiled a series of reforms to tackle Britain’s worklessness problem, including overhauling the benefits system. 

He warned that the current approach to mental health and welfare risks going too far, potentially exacerbating the issue rather than solving it.

By addressing these critical issues with clarity and accessible language, we aim to inform and engage our readers, highlighting the profound impacts of technology on mental health and economic inactivity among young people in the UK.


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