'Profound risk of harm': Surgeon General issues warning about youth social media use

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory Tuesday declaring what many families already know to be true: Social media use may cause harm to children and adolescents. Murthy’s 19-page advisory outlines the ways in which social media can expose children to violence, sexual and hate-based content, disordered eating, bullying, and predatory and self-harming behaviors. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint whether these types of exposures lead to poor mental health, the advisory lists numerous studies that demonstrate an association between the two experiences. “Nearly every teenager in America uses social media, and yet we do not have enough evidence to conclude that it is sufficiently safe for them,” says the advisory. “Our children have become unknowing participants in a decades-long experiment.” While noting the good that can come from youth connecting with peers, learning more about their interests, and accessing spaces for self-expression, the report underscores potential harms. It specifically calls on technology companies and policymakers to develop solutions, rather than placing the burden of ensuring safety on children and their parents. SEE ALSO: When it becomes risky for teens to diagnose their mental health online The recommendations for technology companies include: the creation of systems that efficiently address complaints from young users, families, and educators; use of default settings for children that ensure the highest safety and privacy standards; and implementation of platform design and algorithms that “prioritize health and safety.” Policymakers are charged with requiring a higher data privacy standard for children; ensuring companies share the health…'Profound risk of harm': Surgeon General issues warning about youth social media use