US surgeon general warns that social media use contributes to mental health crises in adolescents

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There is a new urgent warning from the US Surgeon General to protect children from the harmful effects of social media.

dr Vivek Murthy said these social media risks are contributing to the mental health crisis among young people in the country.

“I have Instagram, I have Snapchat, I have Tik Tok, I have Facebook,” said Plant High School graduate Amara Woodward.

She plans to study behavioral neuroscience at Florida State University.

“If you’re a person who becomes addicted,” Woodward said, “social media is going to be a vice.”

Woodward told News Channel 8 teens should avoid spending too much time on social media apps.

“If it’s constantly there, your mental health is going to deteriorate because you’re constantly immersed in this cycle of loneliness,” Woodward said.

According to a new report from the US Surgeon General, research has shown that using social media can lead to or worsen low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders.

“Some teenagers and I personally compare ourselves to people we find beautiful and may feel that we don’t meet beauty standards. So it’s really difficult to maintain your confidence,” said Gigi Allen, an aspiring high school graduate.

The child psychologist Dr. Jennifer Katzenstein of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital said parents need to know which social media apps their children have downloaded.

“Some apps may look like they’re doing one thing, but they’re actually doing something else,” said Dr. Katzenstein, “so we need to know what each of these apps means.”

dr Katzenstein said parents should lead by example and take the time to stay away from digital devices.

“Put the device down whenever you can during mealtime,” she said. “Put your device away an hour or two before bed because we know our devices affect our sleep.”

Woodward offered some advice for students entering high school.

“To be honest, if you use different social media apps more than a few hours a day, if you have that support system in place, you may have a problem and need to work with your co-workers and family,” she said.

dr Katzenstein said parents and children should also be concerned about cyberbullying on social media.

The US Surgeon General said children and young people must report online harassment and abuse.

His advisory report also offers recommendations for policymakers, such as funding future research, calling for more privacy for children, and promoting digital and media literacy education in schools.

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