Surgeon General warns that social media can be harmful to children and teenagers (2023)


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The report from Dr. Vivek Murthy called it a "serious risk of harm" to teenagers' mental health and called on families to set limits and governments to set stricter standards for use.

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    (Video) Surgeon general issues warning over social media's "profound risk" to youth mental health
Surgeon General warns that social media can be harmful to children and teenagers (1)

DoorMatt Richter,Catharina PearsonIMichael Levenson

The country's top health official issued an emergency public warning on Tuesday about the dangers social media poses to young people, calling for efforts to fully understand the potential "damage to the mental health and well-being of children and young people".

Ia 19-page advisory, the surgeon in the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy, notes that the effects of social media on young people's mental health are not fully understood and that social media can be helpful for some users. However, he wrote: "There is ample evidence that social media can also pose a significant risk to the mental health and well-being of children and young people."

The report included practical recommendations to help families manage children's use of social media. She advises families to hold meals and personal gatherings without the unit to build social bonds and foster conversation. He suggested creating a "family media plan" to set expectations for social media use, including boundaries around content and keeping personal information private.

Dr. Murthy also called on technology companies to enforce minimum age limits and create default settings for children with high security and privacy standards. And he called on the government to create age-appropriate health and safety standards for technology platforms.

Teenagers "are not just less adults," said Dr. Murthy in an interview on Monday. "They are at a different stage of development and at a critical stage of brain development."

The report, which brought longstanding concerns about social media into the national conversation, came as state and federal lawmakers, many of whom grew up in an era when social media was scarce or nonexistent, grappled with how to set limits on its use.

Most recently Governor of Montanasigned a bill banning TikTokoperate in the state, resulting in the Chinese application toSueand new TikTok users to complain about what is called "kick in the face." I marts, Utahthe first state to ban social networking servicesnot allow users under the age of 18 to have accounts without the express consent of a parent or guardian; This law could drastically limit young people's access to apps like Instagram and Facebook.

Research results ofPew Researchfound that up to 95 percent of teens reported using at least one social media platform, with more than a third saying they used social media "almost constantly." As social media use has increased, youth self-reports and clinical diagnoses of anxiety and depression have also increased, along withemergency room visits for self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

(Video) Surgeon general warns about teens on social media

The report could spur further research to understand whether these two trends are connected. Joining a growing number of calls to action around teens and social media. Earlier this month wasThe American Psychological Association issued its first social media guidelines, which advises parents to closely monitor teens' use, and tech companies are rethinking features like endless scrolling and the Like button.

In recent years, much research has been done into the possible connection between the use of social media andincreasing anxiety among teenagers. But the results were consistent only in their nuances and complexity.

INanalysis published last year, which reviewed research from 2019 to 2021 on social media use and mental health, found that "most reviews interpreted associations between social media use and mental health as 'weak' or 'inconsistent,' while some shared the same associations labeled as 'significant' and 'harmful''.

At its clearest, the data shows that social media can have both positive and negative consequences for young people's well-being, and that heavy use of social media – and screen time more generally – appears to displace activities such as sleep and exercise. . considered crucial for brain development.

On the positive side, social media can help many young people by giving them a forum where they can connect with others, find community and express themselves.

At the same time, the surgeon general's opinion noted that social media platforms are filled with "extreme, inappropriate, and harmful content," including content that may "normalize" self-harm, eating disorders, and other self-destructive behaviors. Cyberbullying is widespread.

In addition, social media can be particularly crowded for young people, the counselor added: "During the early teenage years, when identities and sense of self are being formed, brain development is particularly sensitive to social pressure, peer views and peer comparisons. ."

The advisory noted that technology companies have a vested interest in keeping users online and that they use tactics that lure people into addictive behavior. Our children have become unwitting participants in a decades-long experiment.

A spokesman for Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook, said the guidance contained recommendations that "make sense and which Meta has largely already implemented." These measures include the automatic creation of private accounts for under-16s when they sign up for Instagram and restriction types of content that teens can view in the app.

(Video) Surgeon General warns about social media impacts on young people

TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The advisory did not provide advice on what healthy social media use might look like, nor did it condemn all young people's use of social media. Instead, it concluded: "We do not yet have enough evidence to decide whether social media is sufficiently safe for children and teenagers."

The position of surgeon general lacks any real power beyond its potential as a bully's pulpit, and Dr. Murthy has no law or politics. The purpose, the report said, was to draw Americans' attention to "an urgent public health problem" and make recommendations on how to deal with it.

Similar reports from former surgeons generalhelped change the national conversationaboutsmoking in the sixties, attracted attentionHIV and AIDS in the 1980sand declared in the early 2000s that obesity had becomenationwide epidemic. Dr. Murthy saidgun violence is an epidemicand has denounced what he called "a crisis of loneliness, isolation and disconnection in our country in public health."

In Monday's interview, Dr. Murthy, that the lack of clarity around social media has been a big burden for users and families.

"It's a lot to ask of parents to use a rapidly evolving new technology that is fundamentally changing the way children see themselves," said Dr. Murthy. "So we need to do what we do in other areas where we have product safety issues, which is to set safety standards that parents can trust and that are actually enforced."

Remy Tumin contributed reporting.

Matt Richtel is a bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from San Francisco. He joined The Times in 2000 and his work has focused on science, technology, business and story-based narratives around these topics. @hrchel

Catherine Pearson is a reporter for the Times' Well section, covering families and relationships.

Michael Levenson joined The Times in December 2019. He was previously a reporter for The Boston Globe, covering local, state and national politics and news.

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(Video) Surgeon General: ‘Growing evidence’ that social media use is ‘associated with harms’ for children

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Surgeon General warns that social media can be harmful to children and teenagers? ›

The answer is that we don't have enough evidence to say it's safe. In fact, there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people's mental health," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in a statement.

What are the dangers of social media? ›

cyberbullying (bullying using digital technology) invasion of privacy. identity theft. your child seeing offensive images and messages.

Is social media helpful or harmful? ›

Since it's a relatively new technology, there's little research to establish the long-term consequences, good or bad, of social media use. However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.

Why social media can harm the mental health of children? ›

Psychological studies have linked cyberbullying to depression, anxiety, and risk for suicidal thinking. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying, and a lack of necessary actions at an appropriate time might lead to severe consequences. Sleep Disruption: Social media at night might disrupt a child's sleep.

How does social media have harmful effects on the health of high school students? ›

The Impact of Social Media on Youth Social Comparison

Teenagers on social media spend much of their time observing the lives and images of their peers. This leads to constant comparisons, which can damage self-esteem and body image, exacerbating depression and anxiety among adolescents.

Is social media good or bad for teens? ›

Social media affects teenagers' mental health negatively by limiting direct contact with peers and encouraging constant comparison online, which can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Is social media good or bad for kids? ›

In addition to problematic digital behaviors, there may be changes in children's daily behavior at home like: Increased irritability. Increased anxiety. Lack of self-esteem.

Why social media is bad for teens? ›

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use.

What are 5 ways social media affects kids mental health? ›

The use of social media has been connected with destructive social comparison, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, social isolation, and bullying.

How does social media affect children's brain development? ›

But a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics suggests social media is changing something else too: the brain development of adolescents. Researchers found that kids who habitually check social media had changes in parts of the brain that control social rewards and punishment.

How social media affects students life? ›

It is easy to become addicted, and research shows that students who spend too much time on social media can suffer from poor sleep, eye fatigue, negative body image, depression, anxiety, cyberbullying, and more.

What are the bad effects of media? ›

Overuse of digital media may place your children at risk of:
  • Not enough sleep. Media use can interfere with sleep. ...
  • Obesity. ...
  • Delays in learning & social skills. ...
  • Negative effect on school performance. ...
  • Behavior problems. ...
  • Problematic internet use. ...
  • Risky behaviors. ...
  • Sexting, loss of privacy & predators.
Jul 20, 2022

Does social media affect students grades? ›

Students who regularly use Instagram while studying tend to perform slightly worse than students who don't use social media while studying. Students who often log into social media and spend lots of time using it slightly lower grades than those who aren't avid social media users.

How does social media affect self esteem? ›

Research shows that the more time people spend on Facebook and Instagram, the more they compare themselves socially. This social comparison is linked, among other things, to lower self-esteem and higher social anxiety.

What are the effects of social media addiction? ›

What is for sure is that, according to many experts, the use of social media — and that includes instant messaging services — can lead to serious addictions and their associated consequences: anxiety, depression, irritability, isolation, distancing oneself from the real world and from family relationships, loss of ...

What are the pros and cons of using social media? ›

Top 10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media
Pros of Social MediaCons of Social Media
People Can Connect Through Social MediaReduces Face-to-face Communication Skills
Good Source of Up-to-Date InformationFake News
Social Media Is Beneficial to EducationPeople's Addiction to Social Media
7 more rows
Dec 27, 2022

Is social media is good or bad to students why? ›

Impact On Health

It is advisable for parents and also schools to keep an eye on what their children are doing when using the internet. Too much use of social media can have adverse effects on students' minds, and they may also be exposed to bad posture, eye strain, and physical and mental stress.

How social media affects children's behavior? ›

Too much time on social media can lead to bullying, depression, and anxiety. Spending more than four hours a day online significantly increases a child's risk of becoming hyperactive and inattentive, and decreases feelings of self-worth. Social media may be one of the main factors affecting children's mental health.

Why does social media affect mental health? ›

Using it activates the brain's reward center by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” linked to pleasurable activities such as sex, food, and social interaction. The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.

How is social media negative for children? ›

Daily overuse of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems.

Should you keep your child off social media? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time a day. Limit social media use to waking hours only, which helps minimize the time your kids are on social media unsupervised. Have a central location where all phones can charge at night.

Why social media is bad for society? ›

Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health.

How does media affect child development? ›

Kids who use media in their bedrooms often don't get enough sleep at night. Media use also can expose kids to cyberbullying, which has been linked to depression and suicide. And media use can distract kids from important tasks, interfere with homework time, and hurt school performance.

What are 3 tips to keep social media from becoming a negative influence on your mental health? ›

Protecting your mental wellness on social media
  • Take stock of how your feeds make you feel. ...
  • Understand what's happening in your brain. ...
  • Try not to compare. ...
  • Put some usage boundaries in place. ...
  • Get strict about curation. ...
  • Start over (or step away entirely)
Dec 2, 2021

How can we prevent social media from affecting mental health? ›

Don't check social media during meals with family and friends, when playing with children or talking to a partner. Make sure it doesn't interfere with work or school. And especially, don't keep your phone in the bedroom – it disrupts your sleep. Take breaks: Schedule regular breaks from social media.

How does the Internet affect children's brains? ›

Because, unlike an adult's brain, a child's brain is still developing, and as a result, malleable. When children are exposed to technology at high rates, their brain may adopt an internet approach to thinking – quickly scanning and processing multiple sources of information.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of social media on youth? ›

Social media benefits include connection, learning and creativity. Risks include exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and privacy and data breaches. Written guidelines can help pre-teens and teenagers get benefits while using social media responsibly, respectfully and safely.

How do you fix social media addiction? ›

Medically-backed up ways to prevent addiction in social media users
  1. Set time limits for social media use: ...
  2. Avoid using social media when you're feeling down: ...
  3. Be aware of the triggers that make you want to use social media: ...
  4. Find other activities to do instead of using social media: ...
  5. Jogging To Repair Your Body And Mind.
Jul 23, 2022

How does the social media affect our relationship with your family? ›

Negative Effects of Social Media on Families

Social media deprives family members of learning and modelling with each other's social cues, interpersonal relationship skills, communication, and bonding. It can also make the family member less critical and absent-minded in family issues.

What are five negative effects of media on society? ›

This influence can be negative or positive. The negative effects of mass media on society can lead people towards poverty, crime, nudity, violence, bad mental and physical health disorders and others as such severe outcomes.

What are the 5 effects of media? ›

Type of Effects on Individuals

These six are cognition, belief, attitude, affect, physiology, and behavior. All individual-level media effects studies examine how the media exert an influence on one or more of these six types.

What are three disadvantages of media? ›

Disadvantages of media
  • It contributes to individualism. ...
  • As a consequence, it is affected by social interactions with friends, relatives and neighbours.
  • Some content in the media is not appropriate for children.
  • It can be tough to restrict children's access to certain stuff.
  • Papers are geographically limited.

Do schools look at your social media? ›

Yes, colleges can look at the public version of your social media accounts, but they don't have some sort of secret, government-like power to access your private information. It's much more likely that your social media behavior would only be brought to their attention if it causes a stir.

Does deleting social media improve grades? ›

Deleting social media can help your grades and increase better study habits. This finding helped me see just how much time I was spending insignificantly scrolling.

How does social media affect our time? ›

Social media can also have some negative effects on time management. For example, social media can be a huge time-suck if you allow yourself to get caught up in it. It is easy to spend hours scrolling through your newsfeed or looking at other people's profiles.

What is the most harmful social media? ›

Instagram was found to have the most negative overall effect on young people's mental health. The popular photo sharing app negatively impacts body image and sleep, increases bullying and “FOMO” (fear of missing out), and leads to greater feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

How social media affects the human brain? ›

Each like or positive comment presents a little hit of dopamine to our brain, thus creating reward pathways in the brain causing you to desire likes, retweets, etc. However, the absence of likes and comments can leave us feeling empty, sad, anxious or depressed because our brain isn't getting that hit of dopamine.

What are the dangers of social media friends? ›

1 Aside from cyberbullying, oversharing and sexting issues, social media also can put negative pressure on friendships, especially when one friend is very active about posting pictures, status updates and opinions that hurt others. Here are four ways to tell if social media is hurting your teen's friendships.

Does social media improve or hurt our society? ›

While it has the potential for good, social media has been also been harmful to society because of how we use it. Here's how social media is harming our mental health, self-image, communication skills, and society at large—potentially causing more harm than good overall.

How can we avoid social media dangers? ›

Consider taking the following personal safety precautions with these social media safety tips.
  1. Know how to report, block, and filter content. ...
  2. Personalize your privacy settings. ...
  3. Pause before you post. ...
  4. Turn off geolocation. ...
  5. Use a private Internet connection. ...
  6. Talk to your friends about public posts.

How social media affect self-esteem? ›

Research shows that the more time people spend on Facebook and Instagram, the more they compare themselves socially. This social comparison is linked, among other things, to lower self-esteem and higher social anxiety.

What causes social media addiction? ›

Social media platforms drive surges of dopamine to the brain to keep consumers coming back over and over again. The shares, likes and comments on these platforms trigger the brain's reward center, resulting in a high similar to the one people feel when gambling or using drugs.”

What happens to your brain without social media? ›

The need to be constantly connected boosts the production of stress hormones, which can increase the risk of depression. Leaving social media decreases this risk while enabling feelings of focus and calm. Another benefit may be a boost in sleep and academic performance.

What are three bad faces of social media? ›

The more time spent on social media can lead to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, and exposure to content that is not age appropriate. Social Media is addicting. When you're playing a game or accomplishing a task, you seek to do it as well as you can.

Is social media toxic for society? ›

Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health.

Is social media an addiction? ›

Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas.


1. Surgeon general issues warning about social media use for children
(ABC News)
2. Surgeon General warns of social media danger to mental health
3. Surgeon General issues warning about social media and teen mental health
4. Surgeon general warns of mental health crisis surrounding social media
(NBC News)
5. Surgeon general issues warning about social media for young people
(CBS Evening News)
6. Morning Edition: Surgeon general's new warning about kids and social media
(Eyewitness News ABC7NY)
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