“Social Media Harm Warnings Like Cigarette Packets”


In an editorial published on New York Times, Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United Stateshighlighted as the mental health crisis are becoming an increasingly pressing problem younger groups of the population, with i social networks which would contribute significantly to the phenomenon.

According to Murthy, Policy institutions should consider introducing warnings to inform users of the potential harm to mental health caused by social media websites and applications.. “A warning label approved by the Surgeon General and requiring action by Congress would regularly remind parents and teens that social media may not be safe,” he said. wrote the Surgeon General.

As for the warnings on cigarette packages to which Murthy refers, these were introduced in 1965 following a publication by the then Surgeon General, Luther L. Terry. This article established a connection between smoking and lung cancer and heart disease. So much so that Congress has ordered warning packages such as: “Smoking can seriously damage your health”.

Murthy also points out in the article that “Tobacco Labels Showing Surgeon General’s Warnings Can Raise Awareness and Change Behaviors.” However, he also recognized the limitations of such an approach, because it would not be enough to make social networks safer. He further suggested that Congress, social media companies, parents and others they can take steps to mitigate risks and protect children from potential harm.

In his article, Murthy links time spent on social mediaincreased risk of children experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to theAmerican Psychological Associationteenagers spend almost five hours a day on platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. A 2019 study found that the percentage of young adults with thoughts related to suicide increased by 47% from 2008 to 2017, a period in which the use of social media has increased dramatically. Moreover, the data would in all probability be even more worrying if the period after 2021 and the consequences triggered by pandemic.

In addition, during a hearing of Senate Judiciary Committee in January, in relation toimpact of social networks on youththe CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerbergapologized to parents who said Instagram contributed to their children’s suicides or distress. “I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through,” he said “Terrible. No one should have to go through the trauma your families went through.”

Exposure to violent and sexual content, intimidation, harassment and body shaming would be some of the most dangerous aspects in the interaction of sensitive age groups with social networks. “For many children, social media use is compromising sleep as well as time they would normally spend with family and friends.” Murthy said in a statement last year. At a conference on the youth mental health crisis last month, he also said: “It’s no longer people’s culture to talk to each other.”

However, research on the topic is inconclusive and It is not possible to establish a direct cause-effect relationship between the use of social networks and the negative consequences in younger people.. “More research is needed to fully understand the impact of social media,” said Murthy, who also acknowledged that in some ways social media can help teenagers find connections and places to express themselves.



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