Surgeon General Calls For Mass Tobacco-Style Warning Against Social Media
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Surgeon General Calls For Mass Tobacco-Style Warning Labels Against Social Media

Put down that phone. It turns out that it could be hazardous to your health. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is pushing for a mass warning about social media. Murthy has pushed for Congress to pass legislation about social media. It would require warning labels similar to tobacco products. 

Murthy believes that social media plays an important factor in a growing mental health crisis among today's youth. So much so, the Surgeon General pushed for warning labels in an op-ed published in the New York Times.

"Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms, and the average daily use in this age group, as of the summer of 2023, was 4.8 hours," Murthy wrote. "Additionally, nearly half of adolescents say social media makes them feel worse about their bodies."

The Surgeon General also said, "Evidence from tobacco labels shows that surgeon general's warnings can increase awareness and change behavior." So, now, Murthy is ringing the alarm bells about social media.

Surgeon General Calls For Warning Labels

"When asked if a warning from the surgeon general would prompt them to limit or monitor their children's social media use, 76 percent of people in one recent survey of Latino parents said yes," he wrote. He believes a warning label would highlight the pitfalls of of social media use.

Likewise, the Surgeon General is calling on politicians to protect youth online. He believes that they are at risk for exploitation online. "Legislation from Congress should shield young people from online harassment, abuse, and exploitation and from exposure to extreme violence and sexual content that too often appears in algorithm-driven feeds," he wrote. Among his complaints is the collection of data as well as lack of restrictions on features such as push notifications and infinite scroll.

"Additionally, companies must be required to share all of their data on health effects with independent scientists and the public — currently they do not — and allow independent safety audits," he wrote. "While the platforms claim they are making their products safer, Americans need more than words. We need proof."

"I, personally, based on the data I've seen, believe that 13 is too early," Murthy told CNN last year. "It's a time where it's really important for us to be thoughtful about what's going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children."