Manchester United defender Phil Jones says young players who engage in social media now need to be as mentally prepared as they are physically, calling it a “very hostile, toxic place to come into.”
The England defender, who has returned to fitness having not played for United’s first team since January 2020 due to a knee injury, has not posted on his own Twitter or Instagram accounts in over four years.
Several of his current team-mates, including Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial, have all been victims of social media abuse this year.
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"I stepped away from social media a long time ago but it's difficult because all your friends read it, your family read it and they support you, they want the best for you," Jones told the UTD Podcast.
"They don't want to see their mate, their husband, their dad getting slaughtered all over the papers or all over the media, so it's tough because mentally I was going through a tough time and (then) to read stuff as well.
"It's difficult but it's something I've learned to deal with, especially over the time I've been at United and the more experience you get, the older you get, the better you learn to deal with those things.
"I suppose for young players coming into the game now, not just at Man United, but all over the world, it's a very hostile, toxic place to come into and they've got to be able to deal with that mentally as well as physically."
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Jones admits it is hard for many young players to avoid social media, but has warned them not to become too consumed by it - and to take some comments with a pinch of salt.
"I look how the game's been developed over the last 10 years, and the way social media has developed and it's difficult to stay away from it.
"It's difficult not to get distracted by it (and) young players coming into the game, I think it's difficult for them not to read it.
"I know as a young player, that's the first thing you do: you come off the game and you want to see what people are saying about you and when you strip it all back in reality, it doesn't really matter what they say because they're not picking the team."
Jones may find he will be needed by United's first team sooner rather than later, with Harry Maguire out injured, and Raphael Varane forced off during France's 2-1 Nations League win over Spain last night.
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