Social Media is a ‘Profound Risk’ to Youth, Surgeon General Warns
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy issued a public advisory Tuesday warning of the risks of social media use for young people. on page 19 reportDr Murthy said that while the effects of social media on the mental health of adolescents are not fully understood, social media may be beneficial for some users, but “social media can harm adolescents.” “There are good indicators that it could pose a significant risk,” he said. Mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. “
The Surgeon General called on policymakers, tech companies, researchers and parents to “act now” to prevent potential risks.
Why it matters: Young brains are especially susceptible to social media.
“Adolescents are more than just little adults,” Dr. Mercy said of the recommendation in an interview with The New York Times. “They are at different stages of development and at critical stages in brain development.”
The report states, “Frequent social media use affects the developing brain’s amygdala (important for emotional learning and behavior) and prefrontal cortex (important for impulse control, emotional regulation, and social behavioral mitigation). “It could be related to a distinct change.” Sensitivity to social rewards and punishments may increase. “
The report also reported that up to 95 percent of teens use at least one social media platform, and more than a third said they use social media “almost constantly.” It also cites survey results that show that Additionally, nearly 40% of children aged 8-12 use her social media, even though most sites have a minimum age of 13 or older for her.
Researchers have struggled to understand the effects of social media use on teens’ mental health. The data are not simple and show that the impact can be both positive and negative. For example, some young people use social media to connect with others, find community, and express themselves.
But social media is also flooded with “extreme, inappropriate and harmful content”, including content that “normalizes” self-harm, eating disorders and other destructive behaviors, the advisory said. ing. Cyberbullying is rampant. And increased use of social media coincides with a decline in exercise, sleep, and other activities considered essential for brain development.
Furthermore, the social media space can be dangerous, especially for young people, the recommendation adds, “Brain development is particularly affected by social pressure, peer opinions, and relationships with peers during early adolescence, when identities and self-esteem are being formed.” They are susceptible to comparison.”
Context: Amid America’s youth mental health crisis, scrutiny is increasing.
Calls for action on youth and social media are growing as experts explore what role the recommendations may play in the ongoing teen mental health crisis. It is an addition to that. Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association released its first-ever guidance on social media, urging parents to closely monitor teens’ usage and tech companies to rethink features like infinite scroll and the “Like” button. recommended to do.
What’s next: The Surgeon General calls for immediate action.
In his recommendation, Dr. Mercy expressed an “urgent need” for clarification on several aspects of research. These include types of social media content that cause harm. Whether specific neural pathways are affected, such as those involved in reward or addiction. And what strategies can be used to protect the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents?
“Our children have become naive participants in decades of experimentation,” Dr. Mercy wrote. “It is critical that independent researchers and technology companies work together to rapidly advance our understanding of the impact of social media on children and adolescents.”
Dr. Mercy also acknowledged that, historically, “the burden of protecting adolescents has largely fallen on children, adolescents and their families.”
“Establishing new technology that evolves rapidly and fundamentally changes the way children perceive themselves, and asking them to manage it, is a lot to ask of parents. You have to,” Dr. Mercy told The Times. Similarly in other areas where product safety is an issue, it is about setting and enforcing safety standards that parents can trust. “