Surgeon General Warns of the dangers of social media to youth

The Social Media Content of Children, Teens and Adolescents: Dr. A. Murthy, C.P.S.D., Pediatrics, Pediatric Phys. Lett. A 21-Year

Social media may be contributing to some harms that the Advisory calls attention to. It calls attention to “extreme, inappropriate, and harmful content” that it says “continues to be easily and widely accessible by children and adolescents,” and also cites studies suggesting a link between high usage of social media and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The surgeon general urged policymakers, tech companies, researchers and parents to take action to protect against potential risks.

“Adolescents are not just smaller adults,” Dr. Murthy said in an interview with The New York Times about the advisory. They are in a critical phase of brain development, in a different phase of development.

The report noted that “frequent social media use may be associated with distinct changes in the developing brain in the amygdala (important for emotional learning and behavior) and the prefrontal cortex (important for impulse control, emotional regulation, and moderating social behavior), and could increase sensitivity to social rewards and punishments.”

More than one-third of teens use social media almost constantly, according to research, and up to 95 percent of teens report using at least one social media platform. In addition, nearly 40 percent of children ages 8 to 12 use social media, even though the required minimum age for most sites is 13.

What can Facebook and Twitter do for marginalized youth? A report by Dr. Murthy at the Los Angeles County Department of Children’s Health

“That’s a lot to ask of parents — to take a new technology that’s rapidly evolving and that fundamentally changes how kids perceive themselves” and ask parents to manage it, Dr. Murthy told The Times. In areas where we have problems with product safety, we have to set safety standards that parents can rely on, that are actually enforced.

The advisory shows how benefits of social media can be for marginalized groups. According to the report, there are studies that show social media can help the mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, queer, intersex and other youths.

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