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U.S. Surgeon General Calls for Warning Labels on Social Media Apps Due to Harm to Adolescents

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Monday urged for warning labels to be added to social media apps, highlighting the harm these platforms have caused to young people, especially adolescents.

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Murthy stated that while a warning label alone won’t make social media safe for young people, it can raise awareness and influence behavior, similar to the impact seen from tobacco warning labels. Implementing such a warning would require legislation from the U.S. Congress.

Youth advocates and lawmakers have long criticized social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat for their detrimental effects on children, including shortened attention spans, negative body image promotion, and vulnerability to online bullying and predators.

“It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents,” Murthy wrote.

TikTok, Snap, and Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, did not respond to requests for comment.

In January, the CEOs of these companies, along with those from social media platform X and messaging app Discord, faced intense scrutiny from U.S. senators during a hearing on online child safety. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham accused the leaders of having “blood on your hands” for failing to protect young users from sexual predators.

Several U.S. states are working to pass legislation to safeguard children from the harmful effects of social media, such as anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. This month, New York state lawmakers passed legislation to prevent social media platforms from exposing users under 18 to “addictive” algorithmic content without parental consent. In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning children under 14 from social media platforms and requiring parental consent for 14- and 15-year-olds.

Source: Reuters

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