Top health officials in the United States confirm there is growing evidence that social network use is linked to harm to young people’s mental health
The top United States health official on Tuesday issued a stark warning to parents, technology companies and regulators, saying there is strong evidence that social media use can seriously harm children.
In a lengthy notice, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that although they are not without benefits, “there are substantial indicators that social media may carry a profound risk of harm to the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents”.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, social network use by young people in the United States is nearly universal: up to 95% of teens say they use some social platform and more than a third say they use it ” almost constantly” do “…
Murthy reports that social media can help children and teens feel connected to a community, but it also contains “excessive, inappropriate and harmful content” that can “normalize” self-harm and suicide. .
They can perpetuate body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and depression and expose children to online bullying when they go through a critical stage of brain development, the report warned.
Murthy called on policy makers to strengthen safety regulations around social media and urged tech companies to responsibly assess the impact of their products on children and share data with researchers.
He advised parents to set up tech-free zones at home to encourage personal communication and educate children through healthy and responsible online behaviour.
The report comes at a time when officials across the United States are looking for ways to regulate social media use and curb its harmful effects, especially on young people.