Facebook, Snapchat and Fortnite 'should be forced to protect children from abuse and addiction'

Apps like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat – as well as game phenomenon Fortnite – "target" children with addictive "hooks", they claim.

And data suggests that social media use and gaming habits in kids can lead to long lasting mental health problems.

The experts say current controls are not working well enough, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, wrote in the paper: "For too long, social networks have been allowed to treat child safeguarding as optional.

"We don’t have the same protections in place online as we do offline."

Nearly a quarter of UK schoolkids spends more than six hours a day online, according to the report.

And police are arresting an average of six people a day for grooming children on social media.

Prof Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University, said between 10 and 50 per cent of adolescents are "habitual" internet users — meaning they could suffer withdrawal symptoms without regular web access.

He added: "As soon as you get an activity that is available 24/7, youngsters have a fear of missing out and not knowing what is going on."

Snapchat denied it used psychological hooks to keep youngsters logged in — and said it has zero tolerance to bullying or harassment.

We reported yesterday how a girl aged 9 is in rehab after becoming hooked to shoot-em-up game Fortnite.

She wet herself during one of her regular 10-hour binges and even hit her dad when he tried to confiscate her Xbox console.

The girl's mum Carole, 36, said: "We had no idea, when we let her play the game, of the ­addictive nature or the impact it could have on her mental health."

More than 40million worldwide have downloaded Fortnite — which is aimed at young teens — after it was launched last July.

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