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○On May 23, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued the following statement: Recommendation It warns about the impact social media is having on the mental health of young people.
“We are issuing this recommendation because this is an urgent crisis,” Murthy told TIME. “We have not made enough progress in maximizing the benefits and minimizing the harm that social media does to children. I have.”
In an interview with TIME, Murthy explores how parents, policymakers, researchers and tech companies can and should work together to make social media platforms safer for children. talked about (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)
Thyme: Why do you think the impact of social media on young people is so concerning?
Since becoming Surgeon General, my primary focus has been on mental health and well-being, and I believe this is what defines the modern public health crisis.
Young people are also a concern. As I traveled around the country talking to families about their mental health concerns, the number one question I received from parents was about social media. “Is social media safe for kids?” And many kids have the same concern. In many of the roundtable discussions I have held with middle school, high school, and university students, social media has been actively addressed.
read more: How to start teaching kids about social media
Here are the three things they’ve told me most consistently: 1. Social media often made me feel bad about myself. 2. That the friendship deteriorated because of it. 3. That you couldn’t get out of it. As one student told me, “I feel great during the day and then I pull out my phone and go to social media and see people doing things without me and doing incredible things.” You see something you’ve accomplished, or you’ve got an incredible body, you’ve got an incredible life, and all of a sudden you feel bad about yourself.” It’s a common theme.
The reason I am issuing this recommendation is to answer the question many parents have been asking me about social media.
What does your report conclude about social media and youth mental health?
After summarizing the available data, including conducting publicly available research, examining public data, and consulting independent experts, our conclusion is that social media platforms are, first and foremost, safe for children. There just isn’t enough data to say. And second, there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm.
Do policy makers and tech companies have a responsibility to ensure their platforms are safe for children?
I believe this is 100% the responsibility of policy makers and tech companies. Companies that manufacture products for consumption by children have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that they are safe for children, that is, that they help and do no harm.
Asking parents to test the ingredients of the brakes of their children’s cars and medicines used by their children, and asking them to conduct chemical analyzes to confirm the safety of paints used in children’s toys. It is not. . To make sure manufacturers meet standards, we set standards and enforce them (usually done by governments).
That’s what’s missing here. You can’t let tech companies set their own standards. We don’t do that in other areas where children’s well-being is at risk. But that’s mostly what’s happened in the last 20 years.
What specific standards can policy makers set for children’s use of social media?
We need to better protect children through safety standards, especially by protecting them from exposure to harmful content. Too many children are exposed to sexual and violent content, harassment and abuse online. That shouldn’t be the case.
A page of safety standards that apply to other children’s products should include age standards. Although 13 is the age commonly used by many platforms to allow users to participate, there are two things to keep in mind. First of all, from the age of 8 he is 40% of 12-year-olds use social media, so this regulation is very strict. second, thirteen [years old] This is not from a health assessment that looked at whether children should reach the appropriate age on social media. I’m from COPPA [Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule], laws limiting the age at which data cannot be collected and shared. We need to understand the right age for children to start using these platforms.
Is there data that tells us at what age children can safely start using social media?
This is also one of the things that the standards set by policymakers can do, ensuring that technology companies can share relevant data from their platforms. We often hear from researchers that they do not have full access to the data they need to fully understand the impact of platforms on children. As a parent myself, I don’t want to believe that information is being withheld about the impact of the products my children are using on their mental health and well-being.
read more: Protecting each other from social media is a team effort for teens
Should standards also include restrictions on certain types of content for younger users?
Effective standards can protect children from harmful content. And these standards should not only be set, but also enforced. It is important that parents and children are present at the table and informed about how these standards are formed.
These platforms are designed to maximize the time children spend. One thing the new standard can do is minimize features that lead to overuse, especially among young children.
We recognize that companies are taking steps to make their platforms more secure, but it’s not enough. Time is of the essence. Children only have one childhood, and every day, month and year is important to their life and development.
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