Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said he believes 13-year-olds are too young to join social media and that being on those platforms does a “disservice” to those children. Scientists have previously warned that joining social media platforms may negatively affect the mental health of children.
American teenagers are in the midst of a mental health crisis, and many experts feel that social media platforms may cause more harm than good.
• A major federal lawsuit filed in January accused social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube of being addictive by design and lawyers working on the case compared them to opioids and tobacco.
• Seattle Public Schools is suing social media companies including TikTok and Meta, saying these tech giants are a substantial factor in causing a youth mental health crisis.
Murthy says that 13 is an important time for children to be thinking about their own relationships and self-worth.
“Their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of these children,” he said. “If we tell a child, ‘use the force of your willpower to control how much time you’re spending,’ you’re pitting a child against the world’s greatest product designers. That’s just not a fair fight.”
He added that parents could exercise their own power over the social media platforms.
“When we had dangerous vehicles on the road, we passed laws to make them less dangerous,” he added. “We should make decisions to make (social media) a healthier experience that would make kids feel better about themselves and less alone.”
He said he’d also like to see parents get in on the action, according to Good Morning America.
“If parents can band together and say you know, as a group, we’re not going to allow our kids to use social media until 16 or 17 or 18 or whatever age they choose, that’s a much more effective strategy in making sure your kids don’t get exposed to harm early,” he recently told CNN.
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