US surgeon general Vivek Murthy presses policymakers and technology companies to take suitable measures to avoid risks of mental health in youth
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, while speaking about the recent mental health crisis on Tuesday, warned of social media's potential to harmfully affect the "developing young brains" as such cases have seen a spike lately.
“Through the last two and a half years I’ve been in office, I’ve been hearing concerns from kids and parents,” said Murthy. “Parents are asking ‘Is social media safe for my kids?’ Based on our review of the data, there isn’t enough evidence that it is safe for our kids.” he added.
The report revealed that Murthy's concerns are based on a recent health advisory issued by the American Psychological Association, which studies the effects of social media on adolescents.
The advisory warns that "adolescents who are exposed to discrimination and bullying online showed an increased risk of anxiety and depression".
Meanwhile, other studies, cited in the report reveal a higher risk of poor mental health in kids ranging from ages 12 to 15 who spend more than three hours on social media.
Although it can prove harmful, social media provides youth with an opportunity to connect with the surrounding world and community beyond their borders.
Murthy shared: "While I acknowledge the positive impact of social media in today's world, I urge the policymakers and technology companies to take appropriate steps to avoid any further damage to the youth".
“We need to maximise the benefits and minimise the harms,” Murthy said. “We have not done that. It’s time to take a thoughtful, intentional approach to this.” he added.
Addressing the families that have adolescents in their homes, the advisory encouraged them to create "tech-free zones" to restrict the use of smartphones or social media for a few hours.