US Surgeon General Urges Age Restrictions and Safeguards as Social Media Takes Toll on Children’s Mental Health


US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has expressed concern about the detrimental impact of social media on children’s mental health. While acknowledging the positive aspects of social networking platforms in facilitating communication and keeping children informed about current events, Murthy emphasized the need to address the harmful effects.

Adolescents’ self-confidence and mental well-being can be adversely affected by social media, prompting the call for establishing a minimum age limit to mitigate these risks. This proposal has garnered support from representatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, highlighting the urgency of implementing protective measures.

Presently, popular platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat require users to be at least 13 years old to create an account. While children under 13 can use TikTok, their user experience is limited. The vulnerability of individuals aged 10 to 19 to potential dangers and the increased risk of developing mental health disorders, including depression, have been recognized by experts. Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, the president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute, warned about the long-term consequences of stress and anxiety on children’s well-being.

In February, Senator Hawley introduced two bills aimed at safeguarding children online. The first, called the Making Age-Verification Technology Uniform, Robust, and Effective (MATURE) Act, seeks to implement consistent and effective age verification processes. The second bill, known as the Federal Social Media Research Act, aims to promote research and generate reports specifically focused on children’s vulnerability to online risks.

These proposed measures underscore the need to prioritize children’s safety and well-being in the digital landscape, taking into account their unique susceptibilities and potential long-term effects on mental health.

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