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Social Media Youth Harm, Social Media

Social Media Youth Harm Lawsuits: What We Know!

Jun 26, 2023 | Blog

Social Media Youth Harm Lawsuits: What We Know!

According to a recent advisory from the US Surgeon General, there is insufficient evidence to determine the safety of social media for children and adolescents in relation to their mental health.  

The advisory highlights that while there are some benefits, the use of social media carries a significant risk of harm for young individuals.  

The Surgeon General urges further research into the impact of social media on youth mental health and calls for action from policymakers and technology companies. 

This comprehensive 25-page advisory coincides with increasing efforts in various states, like Montana, to tighten regulations on social media platforms, including proposed bans on platforms like TikTok. 

Surgeon General advisories draw attention to pressing public health concerns and provide recommendations for addressing them.  

Previous advisories have covered topics like youth mental health in general, health misinformation, and the use of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. 

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General, expressed his concerns about social media’s contribution to the ongoing youth mental health crisis.  

He emphasized the need for collective responsibility and support from parents, acknowledging that these social media platforms are designed to maximize children’s time spent on them, making it an unfair battle.  

The advisory reviews existing evidence on the effects of social media on youth mental health, noting the near-universal usage among children, with up to 95% of adolescents aged 13-to-17 reporting social media use and a sizable portion of younger children aged 8-to-12 also engaging with these platforms. 

The advisory outlines several ways in which social media may harm youth mental health, particularly during vulnerable adolescent years.


Social Media Youth Harm, Social Media

The Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, urges further research into the impact of social media on youth mental health and calls for action from policymakers and technology companies. 


Studies indicate associations between social media use and depression, anxiety, poor sleep, online harassment, and low self-esteem, particularly among girls.  

The report references research demonstrating that excessive social media use is linked to an increased risk of symptoms of depression and anxiety.  

It also highlights studies that reveal improvements in mental health with reduced social media usage. 

Moreover, the advisory underscores the risk of exposure to harmful content on social media, including depictions of self-harm, which can normalize such behaviors.  

It further cites research indicating a meaningful relationship between social media use and body image concerns, eating disorders, and the negative impact on friendships and self-perception, as reported by children themselves. 

The advisory also notes that social media offers potential benefits, such as providing positive community and connection for marginalized individuals, including LGBTQIA+ youth and girls of color.  

It acknowledges the role of social media in facilitating peer connections and delivering identity-affirming content.  

Additionally, social media can serve as a means of connecting some children with mental health care. 

To address social media’s impact, the advisory presents recommendations for families, such as developing family media plans, encouraging in-person friendships, and modeling healthy social media behavior.  

Dr. Murthy shares his personal plan for his own children, intending to delay their social media use until at least after middle school and seeking like-minded families to join forces.  

He also calls for reassessing the situation during high school to evaluate whether improved safety standards have been established and effectively enforced. 

Adam Kovacevich, the founder, and CEO of the tech coalition Chamber of Progress, acknowledges the concerns raised by parents and researchers regarding social media and highlights the implementation of features to protect younger users, such as limiting nighttime notifications.  

However, he cautions against compromising teenagers’ privacy by requiring age verification or depriving them of access to supportive online communities. 

Dr. Murthy hopes that this advisory will trigger action at multiple levels, including increased research and funding, policy changes, and greater transparency and accountability from technology companies.  

He advocates for holding social media companies to the same safety standards as other industries concerning the protection of children.  

Moving forward, the hope is that this advisory will contribute to increased research funding, policy reforms, and improved safety measures within social media.  

By fostering a better understanding of the impacts and implementing necessary safeguards, we can create a healthier digital landscape for children and adolescents, promoting their overall well-being and mental health. 

It is important for parents, educators, and communities to remain vigilant, stay informed about the latest research and recommendations, and actively engage in conversations with children about responsible social media use.  

By working together and prioritizing the welfare of our youth, we can strive towards a balanced approach that maximizes the benefits while minimizing the potential risks associated with social media. 


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