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Social Media Can Be a ‘Profound Risk’ to Youth, Surgeon General Warns

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Social Media Can Be a ‘Profound Risk’ to Youth, Surgeon General Warns

Social Media Can Be a ‘Profound Risk’ to Youth, Surgeon General Warns,

The Surgeon General issues a warning, stating that social media poses a significant danger to young people.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy called for policymakers, tech companies, and parents to take immediate action to protect against potential harms.

On Tuesday, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the United States surgeon general, released a public advisory, cautioning about the dangers of social media usage for young people. In a 19-page report, Dr. Murthy highlighted that while the impact of social media on adolescent mental health is not entirely known and acknowledged the potential benefits for some users, he emphasized that there are clear signs indicating a significant risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Dr. Murthy urged action from policymakers, tech companies, and parents to address this issue promptly.

The surgeon general urged policymakers, tech companies, researchers, and parents to take immediate action to protect against the potential risks.

“In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Murthy emphasized that adolescents are not merely smaller adults. He stated that they are in a distinct stage of development, a critical phase of brain development.”

The report highlighted that frequent social media use could lead to notable alterations in the developing brain, specifically in the amygdala (which plays a crucial role in emotional learning and behavior) and the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for impulse control, emotional regulation, and moderating social behavior). Additionally, it stated that such usage might heighten sensitivity to social rewards and punishments.

The report referenced research that indicated up to 95 percent of teens acknowledged using at least one social media platform, with over one-third admitting to using social media “almost constantly.” Furthermore, it highlighted that nearly 40 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 12 use social media, despite the fact that most platforms have a minimum age requirement of 13.

Researchers have encountered challenges in comprehending the influence of social media usage on the mental health of teenagers. The data is complex and reveals that the effects can be both advantageous and detrimental. For example, social media empowers certain young individuals to establish connections, discover a sense of belonging, and express themselves.

The advisory pointed out that social media contains a significant amount of “extreme, inappropriate, and harmful content,” including content that promotes self-harming, eating disorders, and other destructive behaviors. Cyberbullying is widespread, and the increased use of social media has corresponded with declines in exercise, sleep, and other activities crucial for the developing brain.

Additionally, the advisory highlighted that social media platforms can be particularly challenging for young people. During early adolescence, when identities and self-worth are shaping, the development of the brain is highly vulnerable to social pressures, peer opinions, and comparisons among peers.

Social Media Can Be a ‘Profound Risk’ to Youth, Surgeon General Warns

The advisory aligns with the increasing number of demands for action concerning adolescents and social media, as experts investigate its potential contribution to the ongoing crisis in teen mental health. Just recently, the American Psychological Association issued its inaugural social media guidance, urging parents to closely supervise teenagers’ usage and advising tech companies to reconsider features such as endless scrolling and the “like” button.

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