Citing kids are still “developing their identity,” and such engagement can create a distorted sense of themselves, Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, believes that children 13 years old are too young to join social media platforms.
In a CNN interview, Murthy—who has held the position of surgeon general during both the Obama and Biden administrations—issued the warning, saying that young people should only be permitted access to the platforms until they are at least 16 years old.
“It’s a time, you know, early adolescence, where kids are developing their identity, their sense of self. It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships, and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” Murthy said.
The minimum age to join on social media giant platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter is 13. And with addictive algorithms, which pit youth against Big Tech, Murthy further noted the issue.
He said, “You have some of the best designers and product developers in the world who have designed these products to make sure people are maximizing the amount of time they spend on these platforms. And if we tell a child, use the force of your willpower to control how much time you’re spending, you’re pitting a child against the world’s greatest product designers.”
“And that’s just not a fair fight and so that’s why I think our kids need help,” he added.
This month, a research examined the frequency with which 178 12-year-olds from three North Carolina public middle schools checked social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Nonhabitual individuals showed initial hyperactivation and decreasing sensitivity, while individuals with habitual checking behaviors showed initial hypoactivation but increasing sensitivity to potential social cues over time as researchers found.
Professor of developmental psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and study co-author Dr. Eva Telzer said, “Our findings suggest that checking behaviors on social media in early adolescence may tune the brain’s sensitivity to potential social rewards and punishments.”
“It tells our brains to keep using that. For teenagers in particular, this part of their brain is actually hyperactive compared to adults. They can’t get motivated to do anything else,” Dr. Adriana Stacey said, who compared the addictiveness of cellphones to cocaine and said on CNN that social media generates a “dopamine dump.”
“That’s a much more effective strategy in making sure your kids don’t get exposed to harm early,” Surgeon General Murthy said, he urged parents to work together to forbid their kids from using social media until they are at least 16 years old.
Officials from the Seattle Public School District sued Facebook and TikTok earlier this month for allegedly willfully nurturing and causing a mental health crisis among young people and causing a public nuisance that has an impact on Seattle Public Schools.
Alleging the harm social media has wrought on American youth should implore all to “hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit,” President Joe Biden drew attention to social media platforms in his 2022 State of the Union Address.
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