Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general and the country’s top health authority, has warned that social networks can “severely harm” the mental health of young people, and especially teenagers, and has claimed to protect minors who are mentally ill. are in critical stages. Development.
Murthy maintains that, although social networks provide some benefits, “there are ample indicators that they can also harm children’s well-being.”
“We are in the midst of a national youth mental health crisis, and I worry that social media is a major driver of that crisis that needs our immediate attention,” Murthy said.
From body image to sleep quality
Social media use can lead to body image issues and affect eating behaviors and sleep quality, says Murthy, and can lead to social comparison and low self-esteem, especially among teens.
Teens who spend more than three hours a day on social media are twice as likely to experience poor mental health outcomes, such as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Still, the health authority acknowledges, most teens say that social networks help them feel more accepted, more supported during difficult times, more connected with their friends and more creative.
Murthy also urged lawmakers to strengthen safety standards in a way that maximizes those benefits for children of all ages, while also noting that inappropriate and harmful content is easily and widely available to children. accessible from
Therefore, he says, tech companies should follow age limits to control access to social media platforms and be transparent about data about the impact of their products on children. In fact, he says, the platform’s algorithms and design should seek to maximize the social network’s potential benefits rather than features designed to make users spend more time on them.
“The first principle of health care is do no harm; that’s the standard to which we should start holding social media platforms,” said Saul Levine, executive director of the American Psychiatric Association.
The report includes suggestions for what families, tech companies, and children and teens can do to avoid dangerous pitfalls and make the social media experience more positive. These include creating a family media plan, promoting in-person friendships, talking to children about how they spend their time online, and encouraging them to seek help if they need it.