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Social Media Could Pose ‘Profound Risk of Harm’ to Young People’s Mental Health, Surgeon General Warns

The U.S. surgeon general warned Tuesday of the potential risks of social media to young people, and urged policy makers and technology companies to strengthen standards for adolescents.

Dr. Vivek Murthy’s office said a growing body of research shows the detrimental effects of social media on adolescents. The office’s public advisory said more research is needed to better understand the effects of social media on children and teens.

The advisory noted the benefits of social media, including its use as an outlet for creativity and for finding community. But, the report said, “there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

“We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis—one that we must urgently address,” Murthy said

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Surgeon General issues advisory linking social media and youth mental health

Vivek Murthy asked lawmakers, tech companies, researchers, families, and young people to take action

With nearly every person aged 13 to 17 now having a social media account, and growing evidence that these sites can have a negative effect on the mental health of young people, some states and institutions have started taking steps to combat the negative effects.

For example, earlier this year, Seattle Public Schools sued social media companies, including Meta, Facebook, Instagram, Alphabet, Google, YouTube, TikTok, and Snap, for creating “a youth mental health crisis,” including an increase in  anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm, and suicidal ideation. In April, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation requiring minors to get their parents’ permission to create a new account.

Now, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is also making his voice heard as well, releasing a new Surgeon General’s Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental

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Social Media And Its Effect On The Mental Health Of Teens In America

A relatable scenario for any American parent with teens is going on a drive, only to see your child taking multiple selfies of themselves with their phone, and then posting it on a social media platform like Instagram or Snapchat. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 90% of teens aged 13-17 have used social media, and teens are online on average nine hours a day, not including time spent on homework. Given the large amounts of time teens spend on social media platforms, it should behoove us to ask if such use has any association with their mental well-being?

According to the CDC’s Bi-Annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 57% of teen girls experience

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The Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health

Summary: The U.S. Surgeon General has issued an urgent advisory addressing the potential dangers of social media on the mental health of young people.

Despite the potential benefits, the advisory highlights the risks social media poses to children and adolescents, with nearly 95% of 13-17-year-olds reporting usage.

Acknowledging the ongoing youth mental health crisis, the Surgeon General calls for immediate action from policymakers, tech companies, researchers, and families to better understand and mitigate the effects of social media.

The advisory is a key part of President Biden’s strategy to transform mental health care in America.

Key Facts:

  1. Almost 95% of young people aged 13-17 report using social media, with over a third saying they use it “almost constantly.”
  2. There’s growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health, with harmful content, sleep disruption, and reduced physical activity being highlighted as key issues.
  3. The
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