Connect with us


Surgeon General Wants Warnings for Social Media Platforms




Surgeon General Wants Warnings for Social Media Platforms


Surgeon General Wants Warnings for Social Media Platforms – Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Monday called on Congress to pass legislation requiring social media platforms to issue a warning about the damage they are doing to teenagers’ mental health, after the country’s top health official last year sounded the alarm about the impact of social media on young people.

Key facts

In a op-ed for The New York Times, Murthy said a Surgeon General’s warning label should be mandatory on social media platforms, “stating that social media has been linked to significant harm to adolescent mental health.”

The label would be similar to the one required for tobacco products that warn about the health effects associated with smoking and the use of products containing nicotine.

Murthy noted that placing warning labels “would not make social media safe for young people,” but pointed out studies noting that the similar warning labels for tobacco products show that they can “raise awareness and change behavior,” as well as polls suggesting that parents may be persuaded by a warning label to monitor or limit their child’s use of social media.

The Surgeon General has previously issued a advisory in 2023 warned about the impact of social media use on young people’s mental health, noting that “the current body of evidence suggests that while social media may have benefits for some children and adolescents, there are ample indicators that social media may also pose a high risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

Meta, Snap, TikTok and YouTube have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Get Forbes Breaking News Text Alerts: We’re launching text alerts so you’re always up to date with the top stories shaping the day’s headlines. Text ‘Alerts’ to (201) 335-0739 or sign up here.

Crucial quote

“How is it that we have failed to respond to the harms of social media, when they are no less urgent or widespread than the harms caused by unsafe cars, planes or food?” Murthy wrote in his op-ed on Monday. “This damage is not the result of a lack of willpower and parenting; they result from unleashing powerful technology without adequate security measures, transparency or accountability.”

Large number

96%. That’s the share of American teens ages 13 to 17 who say they use the Internet at least daily, according to a Pew Research survey. questionnaire conducted in September and October 2023, including 46% who say they are online “almost constantly” and 47% who say they use the internet “several times a day.” That’s significantly more than the 24% of teens who reported being online ‘almost constantly’ in 2014 and 2015.

What to pay attention to

Whether Congress will adopt Murthy’s warning label suggestion, though the impact of social media use on teens is an issue that both parties have raised concerns about — with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., accusatory tech executives in January that they had “blood on their hands.” Murthy also suggested passing legislation banning features that make social media platforms addictive, such as infinite scrolling and autoplay; banning social media platforms from collecting sensitive data from children and requiring them to publicly report any data on the health effects of their products, to address concerns about social media’s impact on mental health. Murthy also called on schools, parents and pediatricians to ban phones in schools or prevent children from using them at certain times, and to talk to patients and their parents about the risks of social media.

Important background

Social media use among teens has become a growing concern studies to have suggested a link between the use of the platforms and mental health problems. A 2019 study Research has found that using social media for more than three hours a day increases teens’ risk of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, while in 2022 questionnaire among teens, about half of respondents said social media makes them feel “lonely and isolated” at least sometimes, and 46% said it makes them feel worse about their bodies. Thirty-three states filed a lawsuit against Meta — owner of Facebook and Instagram — in October 2023 over the platforms’ impact on children and teens, arguing that the company misled the public about the impact its products could have on younger users and has used ‘psychological manipulative means’. ” features to make their platforms addictive; the lawsuit is pending. Leaders of social media companies testified to Congress in January about the impact their products are having on younger users. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel apologized to parents of children victimized on social media – but Zuckerberg claimed: “Existing scientific work has not established a causal link between social media use and young people with poorer mental health. .”

Read further

Surgeon General: For the safety of our children, social media platforms require a health warning (New York Times)

Meta sued by 33 states for ‘substantial dangers’ to children on Instagram and Facebook (Forbes)