Surgeon General’s Warning: Social Media May Be Unsafe
By: Kaydee Ambas · May 24, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes
Is Social Media Safe?
As a society, we don’t let our kids smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol until they reach a certain age. Because a child’s brain isn’t fully developed, these substances can hinder their mental growth — on top of the inherent health risks they pose.
This begs a question: why is it acceptable for children to spend hours a day scrolling through social media, when the health effects are largely unknown?
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is asking the same question. In fact, he recently issued a warning imploring tech companies, parents, and caregivers to protect kids from excessive social media use.
Negative Side Effects
Most social media companies have an age requirement for kids to sign up. But age limits are hard to enforce for platforms with hundreds of millions of users. With the anonymity the internet affords, they’re also fairly easy to sidestep.
40% of children ages 8 to 12 use social media and are thus exposed to potentially harmful content. Meanwhile, a whopping 95% of kids in the subsequent age range, 13 to 17, report using at least one social media platform. 33% say they use social media “almost constantly.”
As a relatively new development, there are few conclusive studies as to the long-term effects of social media use. But in his warning, Dr. Murthy cited several studies suggesting social media has negative consequences. For example, an internal study linked Instagram (META) use to mental health issues, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts. Social media has also been shown to have harmful effects on sleep.
Social media isn’t all bad. In fact, it can be a vital outlet for expression and source of community, particularly for marginalized children. Dr. Murthy is not calling for a blanket ban. Rather, he’s urging policymakers to put up safety rails and regulations for social media, like there are for car seats, baby formula, and other products children use.
While waiting for those regulations to materialize, the Surgeon General also suggested three ways guardians can safeguard their children’s social media use themselves:
1. Setting boundaries or time limits.
2. Creating tech-free zones.
3. Educating kids on responsible technology usage.
Social media is best in moderation. Like with other things your kids likely love — such as drinking soda, eating candy, or watching TV — it’s more satisfying and healthy on a balanced diet.
Looking for more stories like this? Check out On the Money — SoFi’s one-stop-shop for news, trends, and tips!
Please understand that this information provided is general in nature and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation or solicitation of any products offered by SoFi’s affiliates and subsidiaries. In addition, this information is by no means meant to provide investment or financial advice, nor is it intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision or recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Keep in mind that investing involves risk, and past performance of an asset never guarantees future results or returns. It’s important for investors to consider their specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile before making an investment decision.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. These links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement. No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this content.
Communication of SoFi Wealth LLC an SEC Registered Investment Advisor
SoFi isn’t recommending and is not affiliated with the brands or companies displayed. Brands displayed neither endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks and service marks referenced are property of their respective owners.