Are we surprised that social media poses risk of harm to children and adolescents? No

New advice from the US Department for Health and Human Services says there is a real risk to young people from social media.

The United States’s Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, says there is a risk to both children and adolescents following new advice released by the US Department for Health and Human Services.

Dr Murthy said: “The bottom line is we do not have enough evidence to conclude that social media is, in fact, sufficiently safe for our kids. And that’s really important for parents to know,” .

In a series of tweets, Dr Murthy said: “Nearly every teenager in America uses social media, and yet, we do not have enough evidence to conclude that it is sufficiently safe for them, especially at such a vulnerable stage of brain, emotional, and social development.” …”Much of the evidence we do have indicates that there is enough reason to be deeply concerned about the risk of harm social media poses.”

Though the risk has been obvious for many years now, with case upon case piling up, this latest advice may prompt personal calls to action to mitigate the risk of mental harm to young people. Britons will be familiar with the case of Molly Russell, who tragically ended her life following a series of posts she was shown by Instagram’s algorithm. But even if platforms are able to avert the risks of their programming, there will be other ways users can access disturbing content.

Another problem social media poses, especially in the US, is the influence of guns, particularly shootings that have been live-streamed. Social media simply acts as an enhancement pill for those who feel they lack something in life. It washes out our dopamine receptors, it showcases a life lived by those who do not live them, and increases a constant need to consume and be something we perhaps are not.

This phenomena, is not privy to children and adolescents, but adults too. Though the need to curb social media’s destructive effect among young people is far more urgent as they grow with what they consume. A child raised influenced by social media compared to one who doesn’t, will more than likely develop a mental health condition.

The truth has been plain for all to see for too long now, from mass hysteria events in the form of trends to bouts of loneliness leading to suicide and self-harm. No one is safe from capitalism’s ugly third arm we have come to know as social media.


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