Surgeon General issues advisory about social media's harm to children
Murthy's advisory included recommendations for policymakers, such as creating safety standards.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory about the effects of social media use on the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents, stating that studies have shown a relationship between social media use and sleep issues and depression.
Up to 95% of teenagers use social media, with at least one study finding that teens spend an average of 3.5 hours a day on it, the advisory issued Tuesday stated.
Adolescents who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media face twice the risk of struggling with mental health, according to research cited in the advisory. Another study found that limiting social media use to 30 minutes a day over several weeks led to significant improvements in depression symptoms.
"Children are exposed to harmful content on social media, ranging from violent and sexual content, to bullying and harassment. And for too many children, social media use is compromising their sleep and valuable in-person time with family and friends," Murthy said. "We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis – one that we must urgently address."
Murthy's advisory included recommendations for policymakers, such as creating safety standards. He also proposed for technology companies to adhere to age minimums for users and to share data about their products' effects on children. He additionally said parents and caregivers can create "tech-free zones" and children could limit time on platforms.
Leaders from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other major medical groups endorsed the advisory.