USA News

Surgeon General demands warning label on social media apps


Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the threat social media poses to children requires urgent action, and he called on Congress to put a label on the apps, as it does for cigarettes and the alcohol.

“The youth mental health crisis is an emergency — and social media has become a significant contributor,” Murthy said in an op-ed in The New York Times on Monday.

Murthy cited several studies, including a 2019 American Medical Association study published in JAMA that showed teens who spent three hours a day on social media doubled their risk of depression. Teenagers spend nearly five hours a day on social media apps, according to a Gallup poll.

In an interview with CNN’s Meg Tirrell, Murthy said the prevalence of social media use among children is over 95%, “almost universal.”

But Murthy can’t act unilaterally to put a warning label on apps — that requirement would have to come from Congress, to which Murthy has advocated for passage of a bill.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

American Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.

“I made this call for a warning because I think it is essential that parents know what we know now, which is that there are significant harms associated with the use of social media,” said Murthy at CNN.

Similar tobacco labels, first instituted in 1965, have led to a steady decline in U.S. smoking in recent decades.

Congress has long chastised social media companies, saying they harm children. Tech company CEOs have been regularly questioned on Capitol Hill, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has publicly apologized to families whose children have committed suicide due to online bullying and harassment. But Congress has taken little action to limit children’s use of social media.

Murthy argued that it’s time for Congress to get serious about reducing children’s social media use.

“In the meantime, when we have reliable evidence that tells us social media is safe and that changes are happening and will be happening in the future… parents deserve to be warned. That’s where the label comes in,” Murthy told CNN, adding that he hopes Congress will introduce legislation as soon as possible to add a surgeon general warning label to social media. “I think it’s an urgent matter.”

Murthy has been warning for years about the harmful effects of social media on children’s well-being. But Monday’s emergency declaration and his appeal to Congress represent his most urgent call for action on this issue yet.

In May 2023, Murthy issued an advisory stating that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether social media is sufficiently safe for the mental health of children and adolescents, stating that social media use presents ” a significant risk of harm” to children.

He suggested parents restrict their children’s use of social media, saying 13 is too young to join social apps. But these advisories are designed to call attention to urgent public health issues – they don’t require action.

“We are in the middle of a youth mental health crisis and I fear that social media is contributing to the harm that children are experiencing,” Murthy told CNN in May 2023. “For too long, we have placed the entire population at risk. The burden of managing social media falls on the shoulders of parents and children, despite the fact that these platforms are designed by some of the most talented engineers and designers in the world to maximize the time our children spend on them.

On CNN’s “Chasing Life” podcast with Dr. Sanjay Gupta in June 2023, Murthy outlined some steps parents can take to control their children’s social media use, including teaming up with other parents to ensure that children do not have the “I’m the only one” feeling. without social media” excuse.

A warning label, if Congress passes legislation requiring it, would be insufficient to solve the problem, Murthy acknowledged.

He suggested that schools become phone-free environments for children, just like dinnertime and other family events. And Murthy urged parents to restrict their children’s use of social media until they graduate from high school.

Several states have worked to pass legislation to increase the age at which children can start using social apps or some of their more time-consuming features, such as algorithms that push people to interact with more content in the application. The bills were largely bipartisan.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill in March that would prohibit children under 14 from getting their own social media accounts, and children under 16 would need parental consent to have an account. New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would sign a law passed by the state legislature that would ban social media from using algorithms in children’s feeds, and that the bill would also prevent technology companies from sharing information about children under 18.

“This is much easier said than done, which is why parents should work with other families to establish common rules, so that no parent has to struggle alone or feel guilty when her teenagers say they are the only ones who have to put up with limits.” Murthy wrote in the New York Times.

On Monday, Murthy confirmed to CNN that alcohol and cigarettes are currently the only two products with warning labels from the surgeon general, but that the overall health risk from social media is “just as serious.”

“We are talking about the mental health and well-being of children,” he said.

News Source :
Gn usa

jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
Back to top button