On May 23rd, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy unveiled a research report highlighting social media as a major contributing factor to mental health problems among American adolescents, including depression and anxiety.
Murthy emphasized the need for society to acknowledge the impact of social media on the psychological well-being of children and teenagers. He called on governing bodies and social media platform companies to enable parents to effectively manage their children’s use of social media platforms.
In a recent report unveiled by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, social media has been identified as a leading cause of eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and low self-confidence among adolescents. Some studies have also suggested a link between excessive social media use and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
According to NBC, Murthy described youth mental health issues as “one of the most serious public health challenges of our time.” He emphasized the need for regulatory bodies to establish effective safety standards to protect adolescents and mitigate their exposure to harmful content or excessive social media usage.
The report highlighted that 95% of American adolescents aged 13 to 17 use social media platforms, with one-third of users admitting to “constantly” checking social media updates, posting, or responding to posts.
During an interview, Murthy stated that there is currently insufficient evidence to deem social media as completely safe for children, stating, “We must take action to ensure that we can protect our children.”
According to a survey conducted by the non-profit organization Pew Research Center, TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram are the most favored social media platforms among teenagers.
Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, pointed out that cases of teenage depression have been on the rise since 2012, which coincides with the widespread adoption of smartphones.
Twenge noted that during the same period, social media platforms introduced features such as likes and increasingly complex algorithms, designed to keep users engaged for longer periods. This correlation is not merely a coincidence.
Researchers recommend that parents expand their supervision of their children’s internet usage, particularly paying attention to the content consumed by children aged 10 to 14.
Specific measures include enabling safety features on social media apps, engaging children in daily discussions about their online experiences, setting limits on screen time to prevent academic and sleep disruptions, and setting a good example for children in terms of electronic device and social media use.