Leading UK psychiatrists say they will never understand the risks and benefits of social media use on children’s mental health unless companies hand over their data to researchers.
Tech companies must be made to share data and pay a tax to fund important research, they say in a report.
There is growing evidence internet use can harm mental health but research is still lacking, it adds.
An independent regulator for online safety is planned by the government.
The report, by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, calls on the regulator to require social-media companies to share data on how children and young people are using the likes of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – not just how much time they spend online.
The data collected would be anonymous, the report says.