Request An Appointment

U.S. Surgeon General Cautions About the Role of Social Media in Youth Mental Health Crisis

On May 23rd, The United States surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued a new advisory warning of the mental health effects of social media on young people. The Surgeon General’s report highlights the widespread use of social media among children and adolescents, with up to 95% of youth aged 13-17 using social media platforms. While social media can have benefits such as positive community connections and access to information, there are also significant concerns about its impact on mental health. The report emphasizes the need for more research to fully understand the risks and benefits of social media for youth.

The influence of social media on youth mental health is influenced by various factors, including the amount of time spent on platforms, the type of content consumed, and the disruption of essential activities like sleep and physical activity. Adolescence, a critical period of brain development, is particularly vulnerable to the impact of social media, as it can affect emotional learning, impulse control, and emotional regulation. Frequent social media use may lead to changes in the developing brain and heightened emotional sensitivity.

The report acknowledges the potential benefits of social media, such as providing positive connections, access to support networks, and opportunities for self-expression. However, it also highlights the potential harms, including poor mental health outcomes like depression and anxiety. Excessive social media use has been linked to sleep problems, attention issues, and feelings of exclusion among adolescents. Exposure to harmful content, such as self-harm acts or hate-based content, is also a concern.

The report emphasizes the need for urgent action to create safe and healthy digital environments for children and adolescents. It calls for increased awareness of the risks associated with social media use, further research to better understand its impact, and measures to minimize harm and protect the mental health and well-being of youth during critical stages of development.

To read the full report and view recommendations for how to mitigate the impact of social media use on children, click here.