Can young people’s mental health be negatively impacted by social media?

On Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a public health advisory regarding the risks of social media on the well-being of young people. The advisory included recommendations for families, tech companies, and governments to regulate young people’s use of social media. The impact of social media on adolescent mental health is not fully understood, and some users may benefit from it. However, there are ample indicators that suggest social media can seriously harm children and adolescents’ mental health and well-being.

Dr. Murthy recommended creating a “family media plan” that sets expectations for social media usage and content boundaries. He also called on tech companies to enforce minimum age limits and create high safety and privacy standards for kids. Governments should also develop health and safety standards for technology platforms.

Adolescents are at different stages of development and brain development, making them more than just little adults. Several young New Yorkers responded to the warning, revealing a nuanced outlook on social media. There is a national debate about its impact on children and adolescents, and the Biden administration announced a special commission to investigate social media’s impact and make recommendations.

Students are asked if they agree with Dr. Mercy’s assessment that social media can pose mental health risks to young people, if they believe families, tech companies, and governments should do more to regulate young people’s use, and if they think this issue deserves more attention and study. They are also asked to share their experiences on social media, their thoughts on the presence of social media in their life, what rules and guidelines their family has regarding technology, and whether any of the Surgeon General’s suggestions would work for their family.

Additionally, students are asked whether they think laws like Montana’s banning TikTok or Utah’s ban on social media services for users under 18 without explicit parental or guardian consent go too far or not enough. They are also asked to consider the extent of social media companies’ responsibility to make their platforms safe for young people and if Dr. Mercy’s warnings about social media could have a similar impact as past surgeons’ general reports on the harmful effects of cigarettes.

The article ends by asking students what they believe the best possible outcome for this report is.

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