document.write(''); US Surgeon General's Report Warns Social Media Can Harm Children • The Register - Simo Baha

US Surgeon General’s Report Warns Social Media Can Harm Children • The Register

The US surgeon general issued an advisory warning Tuesday that social media, despite its potential benefits, poses risks to the mental health of children and adolescents.

Advisory [PDF], by Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, aims to draw attention to the widespread use of social media by young people. It focuses on both positive and negative impacts with vague policy recommendations in mind.

“Almost every teenager in America uses social media, and yet we don’t have enough evidence to conclude that it is safe enough for them, especially at such a vulnerable stage of brain, emotional and social development,” said Dr. Murthy. via Twitter.

“Most of the evidence we have shows that there are reasons to be deeply concerned about the dangers of social media. For example, teenagers who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media are at double the risk of developing symptoms of depression. and anxiety.”

According to a 2021 World Health Organization report, “Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds and the third leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19. The majority of deaths (77 percent) occur as a result of suicide. in low- and middle-income countries.

In the United States, as of 2020, gunshot-related injuries surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for children and adolescents, according to the CDC.

The CDC today ranks suicide as the third leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 19 (2018-2021), after homicide and accidents.

The Surgeon General’s advisory confirms a link between extreme content on social media and self-harm, which is supported by some research studies.

“Extreme, inappropriate and harmful content continues to be easily and widely accessible to children and teenagers,” the advisory said. “This can be spread through direct pushes, spam sharing, and algorithmic design. In some tragic cases, childhood deaths have been linked to suicide and self-harm related content and risk-taking on social media platforms.”

The November 2017 suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell in the UK was partly blamed on Instagram and other social media, according to the coroner overseeing the case.

Child deaths linked to content related to suicide and self-harm

More than 40 school districts have recently filed lawsuits over mental health claims against major social media companies, including Meta and its subsidiaries, Alphabet and Google and YouTube subsidiaries and TikTok owner ByteDance. against

The latest of these legal salvos arrived Monday in federal district court in Oakland, California, one from the Marsy County School District in Butler County, Pennsylvania, and the other from the Berlin Brothers Wall School District in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

“Defendants’ misconduct is a significant factor in the youth mental health crisis marked by an increasing proportion of juveniles struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm and suicidal thoughts,” the Marsy County School District said in its complaint. , arguing that the defendant social media companies should pay for the mental health services that 96 percent of school districts now provide to students.

This is perhaps what US President Joe Biden meant in his 2022 speech when he said:[W]Social media platforms must be held accountable for the national experiment they are running on our children for profit.”

Ohhh, won’t someone think of … the web?

The Chamber of Progress, a lobbying group for the tech industry, asked lawmakers not to harm the Internet in the name of protecting children by requiring websites to verify the age of their visitors.

“As the Surgeon General highlights in his report, social media can create positive connections between youth and peers who share their identities, interests and abilities,” Chamber Executive Director Adam Kovacevich said in a statement. “As lawmakers consider new digital safeguards, we shouldn’t sell out users’ privacy by requiring everyone to verify their age or closing off access to supportive online communities for young people.”

The Surgeon General’s advice offers general recommendations that appear to be intended to offend no one.

we shouldn’t change user privacy by requiring everyone to verify their age

Policy makers are being told to “strengthen security standards and limit access” and “better protect children’s privacy”. Tech companies are advised that they “can better and more transparently assess the impact of their products on children”. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to create “technology-free zones” and become more involved in teaching and modeling responsible behavior. It is recommended that children and teenagers should limit their exposure to social media. And researchers need to delve deeper into the effects of social media.

None of these suggestions are specific enough to provoke a backlash. Nor do they present obstacles like companies actively blocking, recognizing researchers from examining their data and algorithms, or downplaying internal findings about the mental health effects of social media.

However, federal and state lawmakers are trying to curb social media, despite the fact that many rely on social media messaging to reach and influence voters.

Utah has signed a social media law requiring parental consent, and California and New Jersey are considering similar legislation. The question now is whether the proposed rules will be legal, whether they can be enforced, and whether they will do more harm than good. ®

Source link