US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy issued an advisory on Tuesday, warning about the consequences social media usage has for women and children. He said that it is imperative now more than ever that tech companies, policymakers and parents take immediate action to ensure that children are protected.
“For every family, it may not be feasible to stop your child from using social media or there may be benefits,” he told the Associated Press, “But drawing boundaries around the use of social media in your child’s life so there are times and spaces that are protected, that are tech-free, that can be really helpful.”
According to The Guardian, Murthy revealed that it was terrifying that not enough research has been done to understand the harm social media has over children:
“The bottom line is we do not have enough evidence to conclude that social media is, in fact, sufficiently safe for our kids. And that’s really important for parents to know.”
The advisory is a part of Dr Murthy’s ongoing investigation in to the mental health crisis of American youth. The report pointed out that more than 95% of American teenagers between the ages of 13 to 17 years old are active on social media platforms, while a third said they use these apps constantly. The report also pointed out that there has been a noticeable rise of children and adults dealing with anxiety and depression due to social media usage.
This report has arrived in the wake of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealing in 2021 that according to research conducted by Facebook, 13.5% of teen girls say Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse, and 17% of teen girls say Instagram makes eating disorders worse.
“And what’s super tragic is Facebook’s own research says as these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed. It actually makes them use the app more,” Haugen revealed. “They end up in this feedback cycle where they hate their bodies more and more.”
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