SOCIAL MEDIA: Dr. Vivek Murthy Warns on Children’s Mental Health


By Staff Reporters



May is mental health month in the USA. US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy issued a powerful public advisory yesterday warning of the considerable risks that social media poses to young people’s mental health. “Nearly every teenager in America uses social media, and yet we do not have enough evidence to conclude that it is sufficiently safe for them,” Murthy wrote. He argued that kids have “become unknowing participants in a decades-long experiment.”

The surgeon general’s report focuses on the impacts of social media on teens and kids—both positive and negative—and the attendant health risks. The report outlines two types of dangers associated with social networks: content-related problems, such as negative self-image or bullying, and use-related problems, such as poor sleep and addiction.

What we know about social media and kids’ mental health

By all accounts, America’s youth are currently experiencing a mental health crisis.

  • The number of teens and young adults with clinical depression doubled between 2011 and 2021, according to San Diego State University psychology professor Dr. Jean Twenge.
  • In 2021, the CDC found that nearly 25% of teenage girls had made a suicide plan.

Many experts have pointed to social media as a potential cause since the deterioration of kids’ mental health has coincided with the rise of social media platforms over the last decade.

Still, the effect of likes, retweets, and TikTok comments on kids’ brains remains more or less a mystery. We know that social media use affects adolescents and that teens show alarming rates of anxiety and depression. But studies that have attempted to determine whether social media is a direct cause of worsening mental health have been inconclusive. Plus, not all kids are impacted by social media similarly: Some—adolescent girls, for instance—appear to be more at risk than others.

Finally, and according to Morning Brew, while researchers search for answers, some lawmakers are pushing ahead with restrictions on teens’ use of social media. In March, for example, Utah became the first state to establish a curfew for teens on social media apps and mandate that parents have access to their children’s accounts.


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