USA | May 24, 2023

Social media harmful to kids’ mental health but more research needed – U.S. Surgeon General 

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The harmful effects of social media on children’s and teenagers’ mental health have long been debated.

Some say if moderated, there are negligible consequences and that it’s a case of all things in moderation.

But today, most kids can’t live without social media with Tik Tok becoming a huge platform used by about half the population of the U.S. 

Youngsters today are glued to their devices and they are their first port of call for information and entertainment. 

“We’re in the middle of a youth mental health crisis and I’m concerned that social media is contributing to the harm that kids are experiencing.

“For too long, we have placed the entire burden of managing social media on the shoulders of parents and kids, despite the fact that those platforms are designed by some of the most talented engineers and designers in the world to maximise the amount of time that our kids spend on them. So that is not a fair fight. It’s time for us to have the backs of parents and kids,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy.

An Advisory has been released revealing that up to 95 per cent of kids aged 13 to 17 use social media with a third saying they use it constantly. As high as 40 per cent of kids aged 8 to 12 use social media platforms.

Montana is the first U.S. state to ban Tik Tok citing its effects on the youth as one of the reasons for its decision.

There are studies that found being online for more than three hours per day doubled the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes including symptoms of depression and anxiety.

More often than not, the exposure to young children and teenagers of extremely inappropriate content and porn on social media is damaging to children not to mention how it perpetuates body dissatisfaction and leads to cyberbullying.

“The most common question parents ask me is, “Is social media safe for my kids? The answer is that we don’t have enough evidence to say it’s safe and in fact, there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health,” said Dr.Murthy.

Make no mistake, there are concerns about the impact of social media on the youth but more conclusive research is needed. It’s not enough to just say social media is bad for children and young people.

“More research is needed to fully understand the impact of social media, however, the current body of evidence indicates that while social media may have benefits for some children and adolescents, there are ample indicators that social media can have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. At this time, we do not yet have enough evidence to determine if social media is sufficiently safe for children and adolescents,” read part of the Advisory.

“What kids are experiencing today on social media is unlike anything prior generations had to contend with, “ declared Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.


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