(USNewsMag.com) – Vivek Murthy, the current U.S. Surgeon General, discussed the dangers of allowing young adolescents to use social media platforms on a Sunday segment of “CNN Newsroom.”
Specifically describing the impact of social media use on 13-year-olds, Murthy said that based on data he has reviewed, the distorted and skewed environment of social media can affect the development of their identity. He believes using the online platforms can negatively impact their self-worth and ability to develop relationships.
While platforms like Twitter and Meta (Facebook) allow teenagers to join their online communities, Murthy suggested that if parents were to band together and refuse to allow their children to use social media until they are older, perhaps 16 to 18 years old, it could mitigate the potential harm kids can be exposed to online. He believes that if parents were to create a united front in restricting their children’s use of the platforms, it would be easier to decrease popularity among teenagers.
The Surgeon General is not alone in his concerns for the youth. Senator Chris Murphy recently wrote an op-ed in which he expressed concern over society’s social interaction shifting away from face-to-face communication in favor of screen-to-screen. He pointed out that digital interaction does not produce the same value or satisfaction as in-person socialization does, leading to an increase in feelings of loneliness despite an increase in contact.
Due to the addictive nature of social media, a phenomenon fueled by algorithms designed to maximize time spent using the platforms, teenagers find it difficult to control how much time they spend online.
Senator Murphy expressed the belief that legislation could protect children and “make social media a healthier experience.” Researchers have been studying the effects of social media on developing brains for several years. A study published in 2019 used a group of 10,000 teenagers who were interviewed to determine what effect social media use has on 13 to 16-year-olds. The study determined that teen girls were at the highest risk of harm, citing negative mental health impacts, exposure to cyberbullying, and reducing the time they spend getting sleep or exercise.
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