Surgeon General we, doctor. Murthy, issued a public warning on Tuesday about the dangers of using Social media for young people. In a 19-page report, Murthy notes that while the effects of Social media in Adolescent mental health is not yet fully understood and that networks may be beneficial to some users,” there are clear indications that social networks may also pose a significant risk of harm Mental health and well-being of children and adolescents“.
The Surgeon General called on policymakers, technology companies, researchers and families to “take urgent action” to protect young people from potential harm.
Why vigilance matters: Young minds are particularly vulnerable to social media
“Teenagers are not just young adults,” Murthy said in an interview. New York times about alert. “They’re at a different stage of development, which is a fundamental stage of brain development.”
The report noted that “frequent use of social media may be associated with changes in the amygdala (important for learning and emotional behavior) and prefrontal cortex (important for impulse control, emotion regulation, and social behavior modulation).) and may increase sensitivity to social rewards and punishments.
The report also cited research indicating that up to 95% of teens reported using at least one social media platform, and more than a third said they use social media “almost constantly”. Additionally, nearly 40% of people between the ages of 8 and 12 use social media, even though the minimum age requirement for most sites is 13.
Researchers are trying to understand the impact of social networks on adolescent mental health. The data is not clear and suggests that the effects can be both positive and negative. For example, social media allows some young people to connect with others, find community, and express themselves.
The statement noted that networks are also teeming with “extremist, inappropriate and harmful” content, even content that “normalizes” self-harm, eating disorders and other destructive behaviour. a Cyber bullying It intensifies without any control. The rise in social media use coincided with a decrease in exercise, sleep quality and other activities that are vital for brain development.
In addition, spaces of social contact generate stress and anxiety, especially for young people, and the statement added: “In early adolescence, when identities and a sense of self-worth are formed, brain development is particularly vulnerable to pressures from social relationships, opinions, and peer comparisons.”
Background: Increased public scrutiny comes amid a mental health crisis among America’s youth
The statement joins a growing number of calls about the relationship between teens and social media, as experts look at the role they may play in the current teen mental health crisis. This month the American Psychological Association issued its first-ever social media guidance, recommending that families closely monitor teens’ social media use and that technology companies reconsider resources like Infinite scrolling and the “Like” button.
What’s next: The surgeon general calls for immediate action
In the statement, Murthy expressed an “urgent need” for clarity on several research fronts, including: what types of social media content cause harm; whether specific neural pathways, such as those involved in reward and addiction, are affected; and what strategies can be used to protect the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. “Our children become unwitting participants in an experiment that has been going on for decades,” Murthy wrote. “It is critical that independent researchers and technology companies work together to rapidly advance our understanding of the impact of social media on children and adolescents.”
Murthy also acknowledged that “the burden of youth protection falls mostly on children, adolescents and their families so far”.
Murthy told the times. “So we have to do what we do in other areas where we have product safety issues: put in place safety standards that families can trust, and standards that are actually enforced.”
This article was originally published in The New York Times. / translation by RENATO PRELORENTZOU
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