US surgeon general declares war on social media

US surgeon general declares war on social media

  • Wait until after middle school to allow kids to get social media profiles.
  • Use text messages as an interim step to allow teens to stay connected with their peers.
  • And maintain “phone-free zones” around bedtime, mealtimes and social gatherings.

Emma Lembke was 12 when many of her friends started using phones and social media.

“As a result, each of them was distanced from kind of talking to me, spending time with me, even playing in the playground, hanging out outside at school. It was as if my interactions were in decrease,” Lembke told NPR.

It wasn’t just his experience. On average, American teenagers spend almost 5 hours a day on social media. And it is children and adolescents who seem to pay the price.

Those who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media are twice as likely to experience mental health problems like depression and anxiety, according to a study published in 2019 and cited by the Department of Health and Human Services .

Clinical psychologist Lisa Damour, who specializes in adolescent anxiety, says the more time a teen spends on the phone, the less likely they are to focus on other aspects of their life.

“Too much time spent on social media gets in the way of things we know are good for kids, like getting plenty of sleep, spending time with people and interacting face to face, being physically active, focusing on schoolwork in a meaningful way . “Damour told NPR. “So that’s something that worries us, because they’re missing out on things that are good for overall growth.”

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The Surgeon General’s Call to Action

Vivek Murthy, US surgeon general, focused on what he called the “youth mental health crisis” in the United States.

This week, he published an article in the New York Times calling for the use of social media warning labels, like those on cigarettes and alcohol, to alert young people of the danger that social networks represent for their mental well-being and development. He cites the success of tobacco and alcohol labels, which have discouraged consumption.

“The data we have from this experience, particularly from tobacco labels, shows us that these can actually be effective in raising awareness and changing behavior. But they need to be coupled with real changes, (like) the platforms themselves,” Murthy said. said Consider this host Mary Louise Kelly.

“Today, young people are exposed to serious online harm, violence and sexual content, bullying and harassment, and features that allegedly seek to manipulate their developing brains for excessive use.”

Part of Murthy’s advice is to keep children away from social media platforms until their critical thinking skills have had more time to develop and strengthen against what the algorithms might show them.

“Imagine pitting a young person – a teenager, a teenager – against the world’s best product engineers who use the most advanced insights in brain science to understand how to maximize the time you spend on a platform. That’s the definition of a “It’s an unfair fight, and that’s what our children are facing today,” he said.

New guidelines move forward

Damour says the surgeon general’s request for a label is a good start to addressing the larger issue of how phone addictions affect young people.

“The other thing that’s really important in the surgeon general’s recommendation is that he calls for legislation. He calls for congressional action to step in and help regulate what children may be exposed to,” he said. -she declared. “And I think that’s huge right now. It’s entirely up to the parents, and they find themselves carrying the bag on something that really should be handled at the legal level in Congress.”

Murthy and Damour say that educating parents about certain strategies can also help teens maintain a more balanced life. This may include:

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