DENVER (KDVR) — The surgeon general issued a new warning that social media use poses a “profound risk” to young people’s mental health.
While social media use can help teens feel connected and supported, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy warned social media use can also contribute to anxiety and depression in teens.
A new report says 46% of teens aged 13-17 said social media makes them feel worse about their bodies. Some 64% said they are often or sometimes exposed to hate-based content.
Murthy called on tech companies, lawmakers and families to take immediate action.
Dr. Sheryl Zigler, a child psychologist at the Child and Family Therapy Center at Lowry, said she sees the impact of social media in her practice.
“We are still in a youth mental health state of emergency. We need to act quickly. We need to invest in this, and we need to really help our youth, who are struggling so much right now,” Ziegler said.
Social media: Changing how kids see the world
According to the report, 95% of kids 13-17 say they use social media.
“We’re putting kids with very vulnerable developing brains into situations that they can’t manage. It’s overwhelming. It’s actually changing their mood. It’s changing the way that they experience the world,” Ziegler said.
Many times, she said, her patients don’t recognize the negative impacts of social media.
“I don’t think that they have a good idea about how much it’s impacting their self-esteem, how much it adds to their anxiety, and how much it disturbs their sleep,” she said.
To combat the issues, the surgeon general wants to see policies that protect young people from what he calls “addictive apps” and “extreme inappropriate” content.
While the research on the impacts of social media use is not conclusive, the surgeon general said young people do not have time to wait.
Murthy recommends that parents model responsible behavior with social media. He suggests creating tech-free zones, helping kids limit time on screens and blocking unwanted content.