Wayne Rooney: Premier League, EFL young players must be taught how to use social media
Rooney has combined 56m following on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook; former England international expresses concern for young footballers' mental health
Last Updated: 16/03/20 12:39pm
Wayne Rooney says more education and information is needed for young footballers as guidance for how to conduct themselves on social media.
Derby County midfielder Rooney has one of the largest social media presences of any active English footballer with 17.1m Twitter followers, 14.9m on Instragam and 24m on Facebook.
The 34-year-old has admitted to learning through experience on how to behave appropriately online during his 18-year career, but says it is currently a significant issue facing the mental health of young players in the game.
Rooney said in the Sunday Times: "By far the biggest challenge facing young players is social media. Social media is good in some ways but there is also a big downside to it and there should be a course that teaches young people how to use it, when to use it.
"Some messages they put on there are good messages but they're just the wrong times to do it and the clubs could do more to help young players with that.
"I've been there when I was young putting stuff on Twitter and different things. It's so easy to get drawn into it, so I think the quicker players learn to use it the better it will be for them.
"It can affect self-esteem, I've seen players come in from a game and the first thing they will do is look at Twitter on the phone.
"And naturally, if the player has hundreds of thousands or millions of followers there are going to be a few people saying bad things about them. I think the worst thing you can do as a player is looking at it.
"I don't think you can come in like the managers of the past and say 'Right, everything is banned.' With players it's like your kids - you tell your kids not to do things and sooner or later they're going to do it, you'll lose that fear factor. It has to come through them, and that's through education."
Dele Alli, 23, was charged by the FA after posting a video to his Snapchat which appeared to mock an Asian man and joke about the coronavirus outbreak.
Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva was also punished by the organisation for tweeting a photo of Benjamin Mendy alongside an image of the brand mascot of Spanish confectionery brand Conguitos in September last year.
Social media companies have also faced multiple calls from the PFA, Kick It Out, the FA, EFL and Premier League to clamp down on online abuse directed at players, following numerous incidents this season.
Football governing bodies met with Twitter and Facebook in 2019 to try and address a rise in abusive and racist comments aimed at footballers online last year, with Tammy Abraham, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford being among those on the receiving end of the slurs.
In April last year, the PFA encouraged all professional footballers to boycott social media for 24 hours in a stand against racism.
In February, Twitter told Sky Sports News that the company had banned many users who had breached its policies over the course of the football season to date.
A spokesperson for the platform said: "Throughout this football season in the UK, we have suspended 200 accounts and taken action on nearly 4,000 examples of abuse and hateful content."