People scroll social media for hours. They may watch silly videos or read up on the news. The internet doesn’t just get people giggling and keep them updated though. Officials worry that social media can be bad for — especially for kids.
Dr. Vivek Murthy is the United States surgeon general. That’s the country’s top health official. On May 23, Dr. Murthy released a warning. It calls attention to the effects of social media. His advisory said that too much time spent online can cause poor mental health.
According to the document, up to 95% of kids ages 13 to 17 reported using social media. That is nearly all children in the country. Many said they use social media “almost constantly.” In the document, Dr. Murthy states that “more research is needed to understand the impact of social media.” Still, he adds that there is proof of “ risk of harm to children.”
Experts have done many studies on social media and mental health. Studies have shown that using social media can also cause sleeping problems.
Social media can hurt body image too. Body image is how someone feels about their body. Some filters on the app TikTok, for example, can a person’s face. A kid scrolling through the app may see videos of people with perfect skin. This face-changing tech could be harmful. A user may feel bad comparing themselves to the fake looks of others. This can lead to low self-esteem. It can even cause .
There is a positive side to social media as well. Dr. Murthy wrote that more than half of kids reported that social media makes them feel more accepted. Many also said that social media gives them a creative space. It helps them stay connected to loved ones too.
Still, Dr. Murthy offered suggestions for kids. He said that setting healthy boundaries around tech is important. One tip was to limit screen time so you turn it off one hour before bed. This trick can help you get quality sleep! Looking up also lets you enjoy real life. People can spend more meaningful time with their friends and family.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up when you’re struggling. Dr. Murthy said: “Reach out to a trusted friend or adult for help.”
Updated May 24, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Alexa Tirapelli