May 24, 2023

Surgeon General Warns of Mental Health Crisis Surrounding Social Media Transcript

Surgeon General Warns of Mental Health Crisis Surrounding Social Media Transcript
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The Surgeon General is sounding the alarm surrounding teens using social media, saying that a new advisory shows how it can lead to anxiety and depression. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):

For decades, there’s been that Surgeon General’s warning on packs of cigarettes. But this morning, for the first time, a new warning about something else, social media and what it means for kids’ mental health. Why now for this advisory?

Speaker 2 (00:14):

We’re issuing this advisory to sound the alarm.

Speaker 1 (00:16):

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says, “There’s not enough evidence to show social media platforms are safe enough for kids and teens.”

Speaker 2 (00:24):

We see rates of depression and anxiety and suicide and loneliness going up among young people, and I’m concerned that social media is an important driver of that youth mental health crisis. This is the defining public health issue of our time, youth mental health.

Speaker 1 (00:40):

Research shows 95% of teens are on social media. More than a third say they’re on constantly. And teens spend an average of three and a half hours each day on these kinds of apps, something research shows can double the risk of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Speaker 2 (00:56):

The other day, my daughter came up to my wife and I and asked us if she could post a picture on social media.

Speaker 1 (01:04):

How old is she?

Speaker 2 (01:04):

My daughter is five years old. She’s actually in preschool, but she’s been hearing about this from her friends.

Speaker 1 (01:10):

All of the big platforms require users to be at least 13 years old to create accounts, but nearly 40% of kids ages eight to 12 say they’ve used social media too. Tech expert, Max Stossel sees it in the conversations he’s had in the past six years with more than 100,000 students, parents and teachers.

Speaker 3 (01:30):

When I started doing this work, I was getting the question, is 16 too young to give my kid a smartphone? Now I’m getting the question, is third grade too young to give my kid a smartphone?

Speaker 1 (01:39):

Stossel recommends 14, but ultimately, the right age may be different for different families. You are almost certain to get pushback from tech companies who say they’re trying to protect kids. They have age limits in place.

Speaker 2 (01:51):

I appreciate that the technology companies have taken some steps to try to keep kids safe, but it hasn’t been nearly enough.

Speaker 1 (01:58):

The Surgeon General thinks Congress can and should do more to regulate social media companies, the same way safety standards are in place for car seats, for example. And at home, the advisory recommends creating a family media plan together, implementing tech-free zones like at mealtimes, and partnering with other parents with similar philosophies for support.

Speaker 2 (02:19):

What’s at stake here is our kids and their future. Plain and simple.

Speaker 4 (02:25):

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