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US Surgeon General pleads for warning labels on social media platforms

United States Surgeon General dr. Vivek Murthy wants Congress to adopt a bill that forces social media platforms to require warning labels.

“A Surgeon General’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proven safe,” Murthy says in an opinion piece in The New York Times.

He points to the threat social media poses to children and teenagers. “The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency, and social media has emerged as an important contributor. We’re talking about the mental health and wellbeing of kids,” the Surgeon General says.

Murthy cites several studies that point out the dangers of social media for young people, such as the risk of anxiety, depression, insecurity and other mental problems. He also stresses that CEOs of tech companies are not doing enough to protect teenagers. They have also apologized countless times to parents whose children died because of social media bullying.

“I put forward this call for a warning because I think it’s essential that parents know what we now know, which is that there are significant harms associated with social media use. When we have reliable evidence that tells us social media is safe and changes are being made and will be made in the future, parents deserve to be warned,” Murthy emphasizes.

He concludes his opinion piece by saying that social media has become an important contributor to the youth mental health crisis. “We are in the middle of an emergency, and it’s essential that Congress act with speed and urgency. The health and well-being of our kids is at stake.”

Experts agree with warning labels for social media

Numerous social media experts agree with the Surgeon General, comparing warning labels for social media platforms with the warning labels in the tobacco industry.

“Social media today is like tobacco decades ago: it’s a product whose business model depends on addicting kids. And as with cigarettes, a Surgeon General’s warning label is a critical step toward mitigating the threat to children,” Josh Golin, Executive Director at Fairplay, tells Associated Press.

“I am hoping that would be combined with a lot of other work that Congress has been trying to do to improve the safety and design and privacy of social media products,” dr. Jenny Radesky, developmental behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan, argues.

“We are pleased that the Surgeon General -America’s top doctor- continues to bring attention to the harmful impact that social media has on our children,” Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

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