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Surgeon General's social media warning

The U.S. Surgeon General issues social media advisory 📱

Last week, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a warning about social media and its effect on mental health for young people.

In short:

In a 19-page advisory, Dr. Vivek Murthy says that social media can have "profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents."

  • A study of adolescents without ADHD symptoms, using social media frequently, had statistically significant increased odds of developing symptoms, over the course of two years.

  • Adolescent social media use is predictive of a subsequent decrease in life satisfaction for certain developmental stages including for girls 11-13 years old and boys 14-15 years old.

  • Studies have shown people can exhibit brain structure changes similar with substance use or gambling addictions.

To play devil's advocate...

Forming and maintaining friendships online can help develop social connections, and have positive interactions with more diverse peer groups than might be available offline. The buffering effects against stress that online social support can offer are particularly important for marginalized youth. 58% of adolescents report that social media helps them feel more accepted; 67% like they have support through tough times; 71% like they can show their creative side; 80% like they are more connected to what's going on with their friends.

Your task should you choose to accept it:

  • Create a family media plan.

  • Create tech-free zones in the home.

  • Set boundaries for online and offline time.

  • Model responsible online behavior to your kids.

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