U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory Highlights Social Media Risks — Our Resources Can Help
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released an urgent advisory on May 23, regarding the “increasing concerns among researchers, parents and caregivers, young people, healthcare experts, and others about the impact of social media on youth mental health.” We thank the Surgeon General for taking the initiative to declare this an urgent public health issue, because while there are indeed potential benefits to child and adolescent social media use, we agree that the potential risks are serious and far from being sufficiently understood.
The Surgeon General’s advisory can be downloaded in full here, and we hope it will be widely read. This landing page also includes a downloadable short summary, key takeaways, additional resources, and even summarized recommendations based on a reader’s individual role: from parents to policy makers, teachers to researchers, and of course the children and adolescents affected and the tech companies responsible.
We are supporting the Surgeon General’s effort by compiling free, relevant resources, available to all families, educators, and researchers looking for guidance:
- Last night, Dr. Harold Koplewicz, founding president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute, appeared on The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle to discuss the Surgeon General’s advisory and provide his expert recommendations.
- The Child Mind Institute provides a wide variety of free, reliable information and guides for parents and educators. Our Family Resource Center has an entire page dedicated to Screen Time & Technology.
- This expert-informed article helps guide parents in setting limits on screen time. Additionally, we have expert advice on when kids are mature enough to handle social media, to minimize the risks to their emotional health, and when to get your kid a phone.
- In March, Dr. Koplewicz participated in a relevant and informative webinar held in partnership with Fort Health: “How Social Media Affects Your Child, and What You Can Do to Help”.
- Dr. Dave Anderson, our Vice-President of School and Community Programs and a senior psychologist in the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center, participated in a panel with Meta. The resulting handout for parents, “Helping your teen navigate Instagram safely,” provides helpful technical advice.
- In research supported by Morgan Stanley, our own Child Mind Institute scientists conducted a survey to understand the concerns of parents around increased internet usage since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The summary provides parents with strategies to encourage healthy internet usage, and can be found here.
- We would also like to call attention to the Surgeon General’s recommendation that researchers collaborate with one another, in addition to working with technology companies. We encourage any scientists interested in understanding the importance of such collaboration to visit our page on driving the global movement toward open science.
From our work with children and families, the Child Mind Institute has long been aware of the potential pitfalls of youth social media usage. We are encouraged by this increased attention to the issue and will continue to help parents and educators protect and support children while we wait on action from technology companies and policymakers. We want to thank our supporters, whose funding makes it possible for us to provide these resources free to all.