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surgeon general on social media

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U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently voiced concerns about how young and impressionable teenagers are affected by social media.

Murthy stated that parents should be mindful of what information teens, especially 13-year-olds, may pick up on the internet. The government official emphasized that guarding teens’ self-esteem against harmful things on the internet is crucial due to their influential age.

“I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early [to be on social media],” Murthy said on CNN Newsroom. “It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children.” 

“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,” the surgeon general added.

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Warnings About Teen Engagement On Social Media

All major social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter require users to be at least 13 before signing up. 

Parents of TikTok users under 13 are encouraged to put “Kids Mode” on their children’s accounts. The platform’s feature protects children’s privacy and limits the interactions they can have on the app.

American teenagers face a mental health crisis that is partly linked to social media usage. 

“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the app’s researchers said in 2020 in an internal company message board reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Other information noted that Instagram makes body issues “worse for one in three teen girls.” Youths also blamed the app for increases in anxiety and depression.

The fact sheet for Biden’s 2022 State of the Union address noted “mounting evidence that social media is harmful to many kids’ and teens’ mental health, well-being and development.”

In his speech, President Biden promised to “hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”


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