Surgeon General says social media is damaging kids’ mental health
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An announcement from Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy is warning the public about the danger social media poses to kids and teens.
In a 19-page report, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory outlines both the positive and negative impacts social media can have on children, in addition to discussion the consequence of excessive use of social platforms. The report cites children as young as 8 years old using some form of social media.
“I’ve got some young nieces,” said Lansing resident Mark Cantrell. “And they’re on it all the time.”
Apps like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are often the driving force behind bullying, body issues and exposure to inappropriate content, and they’re easier to access than ever. Although the Surgeon General’s warning is new, some parents say they’ve been aware of the dangers of social media for a long time.
“I think most people are aware of the dangers anyway,” said Lansing parent Michael B. “Hopefully this will lead to more people putting restrictions on the screen time.”
Reducing social media’s harm isn’t as simple as taking a child’s phone out of their hand. Ingham, Clinton and Eaton County Community Mental Health Therapist Jennifer Cronkite said social media can be good for kids who struggle to form connections, but when social media becomes a problem, she tells her clients to start by setting a good example.
“You know, our kids are very, very good at watching what we do, and the, ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ approach isn’t going to cut it here,” she said. “So what we’re working with families, and what I’m working on with my own kids, is where are the no tech zones or times in our household.”
Cronkite recommends that parents limit screen time during important family events, like eating dinner together, or attending a sibling’s soccer game. Holt High School Coach and Counselor John Conner said conflict that starts at school, often follows students home on social media.
“We talk about how you can cope while things are going on, and how you can manage the situation with whoever that person might be,” he said. “Typically that starts with, well can we sever some ties a little bit so you don’t have that exposure.”
If parents out there aren’t sure how to get their kids to break their eyes away from their screens, Cronkite said they’re not alone. Her hope is that research on social media will continue, and that together, we can find a way to keep kids safe and healthy.
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