U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory Tuesday declaring what many families already know to be true:
“Nearly every teenager in America uses social media, and yet we do not have enough evidence to conclude that it is sufficiently safe for them,” says the advisory. “Our children have become unknowing participants in a decades-long experiment.”
While noting the good that can come from youth connecting with peers, learning more about their interests, and accessing spaces for self-expression, the report underscores potential harms. It specifically calls on technology companies and policymakers to develop solutions, rather than placing the burden of ensuring safety on children and their parents.
The recommendations for technology companies include: the creation of systems that efficiently address complaints from young users, families, and educators; use of default settings for children that ensure the highest safety and privacy standards; and implementation of platform design and algorithms that “prioritize health and safety.”
Policymakers are charged with requiring a higher data privacy standard for children; ensuring companies share the health impacts of their products with researchers and the public; and pursuing policies that limit access to social media by strengthening and enforcing age minimums, among other recommendations.
Want more stories about social media and mental health in your inbox? Sign up for Mashable’s
The advisory is the latest effort to draw attention to worsening mental health amongst adolescents and teens. Earlier this month, the
In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Murthy issued a
“We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis,” Murthy
If you’re feeling suicidal or experiencing a mental health crisis, please talk to somebody. You can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988; the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860; or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. Text “START” to Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET, or email