Former Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas admits he is torn by the impact of social media platforms, as he called for more to be done to curb online abuse.

Thomas has a social media following in excess of 1.5million and in an exclusive interview with Female First, he admitted the negativity around Instagram and Twitter is counter-balanced by their power to promote positivity.

UK sporting organisations joined forced last weekend to stage a boycott of social media platforms in a bid to highlight the problem of online abuse, but Thomas believes the sensible use of social media can ensure it can have a positive impact on people's lives.

Ahead of starting a gruelling 10-day walk from Monday (May 10th, 2021) that will see Ryan cover 262 miles from London to Manchester in a bid to raise awareness for the mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), he spoke to us about his experiences on social media.

"It can be a big issue with the abuse, but it can also be a great way to communicate with people," he said.

"There are pros and cons with it. I came off my phone for 24 hours and really noticed a difference. I turned it off completely and did give myself a break. Then I had people worrying about me because my phone was off, but maybe we are too reliant on phones.

"It's important to take time off from your phone, connect with the people around you and your family and take a step back at times.

"The positive side is the platform it can give someone like myself. I wouldn't be able to do this walk and raise awareness for mental health without my social media following, so I am using it to my advantage. It's all about balance.

"If you are getting abuse and it's affecting you, then it is right to come off it and take a break, but I am trying to use social media for a positive reason and hopefully this campaign will do that. We are looking to maximise our donations, awareness and to raise the profile for the amazing work CALM do."

Ryan's walk will take him across the UK and he admits he has been training hard for the challenge, with the support of his fiancée Lucy Mecklenburgh.

"I've done a lot of training for this and Lucy has been telling me I need to slow down," he said. "I'm an all or nothing guy and even though this is a big challenge, I want to make sure I'm ready to do it when we start for real on May 10th.

"I have a team working with me who are so important to getting this right. I have a nutritionist, meal prepper, body analysis and injury prevention plans in place and we also want to make sure we get the message out there on what we are doing to the widest audience possible.

"This last year, we have noticed more than ever that people are suffering with their mental health. We all know people who are struggling and the platform I have got to try and influence a discussion about this was something I needed to use. If I can play a small part in this, it's easy to do."

You can donate to Ryan's Just Giving page here - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ryan-thomas36.

Words by Kevin Palmer for Female First. You can follow Kevin on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer.