social media contributing to youth mental health crisis

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Western Mass News is getting answers on a new social media warning from the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who is warning people that social media is contributing to a ‘youth mental health crisis’ in a major advisory released on Tuesday.

The Surgeon General recommended creating media plans and encouraging kids to develop in-person friendships. One child psychiatrist is breaking down more social media tips for those who feel a negative impact from social media usage.

Dr. Murthy issued a major advisory on Tuesday, warning that social media is feeding into a ‘youth mental health crisis.’

“The advisory suggested there are some potential benefits for kids for social media, but there’s also significant concerns and risks related to their behavior and mental health,” said Baystate Medical Center Chief of Child Psychiatry Dr. Bruce Waslick.

The lengthy 25-page advisory listed several red flags pertaining to teen social media use and how it correlates with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. That is something one local mom, Alyssa Archuleta, told Western Mass News that she wants her young son to avoid having to deal with in the future.

“The depression and anxiety and body image links relate more to the females. It hits close to home. I’ve been on social media since I was 9 years old. I think when I got my first Facebook, I’ve definitely struggled with these things myself,” she told us. “With my son, of course, when he gets older, he will obviously know that he is perfect the way he is. I’ll make sure he is aware of that if he gets on social media sites.”

The advisory stated that social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat “raise serious concerns about the risk of harm from social media exposure for children and adolescents who are at a more vulnerable stage of brain development.”

It also recommended creating media plans and encouraging kids to develop in-person friendships. Dr. Waslick told us more social media insights for kids dealing with negative impacts from social media usage.

“Try to monitor their kid’s social media use, to try to limit it so it doesn’t become obsessive that kids are using it all the time, but also, to have parents encourage kids to do other types of activities, go to places in the house that are tech free, spend time with friends, get involved in other activities to pull them away from the lure of social media,” he suggested.

Dr. Waslick said that he has his own reservations about social media.

“The kids get over-involved and want to spend all their free time on social media,” he said. “It almost becomes an addiction, and the second is the stuff they are seeing. The content they get involved with can involve violence, can involve inappropriate sexual material, and it also can involve significant bullying.”

Dr. Waslick urged parents to bring any concerns about their child’s social media usage to their primary care doctor.

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