Teen social media addiction… US health authorities warn of “mental health crisis”

May 24, 2023

Teen social media addiction… US health authorities warn of “mental health crisis”

On the 23rd (local time), Director General and Medical Director of the Public Health Service Corps (PHSCC), Vivek Mercy, announced that social media (SNS) such as Instagram and Facebook could harm the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Published a 19-page public health advisory. The New York Times (NYT) commented on this advisory that this report “will be a turning point in the lives of Americans,” just as social issues such as smoking, AIDS, and obesity became subjects of national discussion in the past.

◆ 95% of US teenagers “use SNS”… 60% increase in suicide rates

“While social media may be beneficial to some users, there are ample indications that social media can cause serious harm to the mental health of minors, such as children and adolescents,” Mercy said in the advisory.

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In fact, as a result of a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center on the frequency of SNS use among teenagers in the United States, it was found that about 95% of teenagers use at least one SNS platform. More than a third of these respondents said they use social media ‘almost always’.

The NYT analyzed that SNS addiction among teenagers is manifesting in symptoms of depression and anxiety, even self-harm and suicide attempts. The NYT said, “In 2019, 13% of teenagers experienced depression,” and “this is a 60% increase from 2007.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the suicide rate (per 100,000 people) in the United States, which was stable from 2000 to 2007, rose by nearly 60% by 2018.

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In an interview with the New York Times the previous day, Mercy said, “Minor children are not simply small adults,” and “they are in a different developmental relationship and are at an important stage in brain development.”

According to a paper titled ‘The Effects of SNS Use on Adolescent Mental Health’ published in the US National Library of Medicine last year, a study conducted on American teenagers from 2019 to 2021 showed that SNS use was It has been found to have both positive and negative effects on mental health.

Regarding the research results, the NYT said, “The positive function of SNS is that it can be a place of communication where you can meet many peers and express yourself. However, SNS platforms contain abnormal content such as self-harm, which is harmful (to teenagers) ”, he evaluated.

Like smoking and AIDS… “Does SNS usage change perceptions?”

On the 17th, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill banning the use of China’s short-form video platform ‘TikTok’. If the bill goes into effect next year, Montana will become the first state out of the 50 states to ban TikTok. Previously, in March, Utah, the United States, passed a law to restrict parents from using SNS by their minor children, and it is about to be implemented in March next year. Although there are still restrictions on the use of social media centered on Republican-dominated areas with strong conservative tendencies, it is expected to spread throughout the United States with this public health advisory.

The NYT said, “It is rare for the ‘General Secretary’, the best doctor in the United States, to give advice to Americans (related to public health),” but “it is also a turning point in the lives of Americans.”

Although we now know that smoking is harmful to health by causing cancer and cardiovascular disease, cigarette consumption increased rapidly until the link between smoking and cancer was discovered in the early 1900s. Cigarette consumption per capita in the United States exploded from 54 cigarettes in 1900 to more than 4,000 in 1963.

In response, Luther Terry, then director of public health for the 35th former President John F. Kennedy and the 36th President Lyndon B Johnson of the United States at the time, issued the ‘Smoking and Health’ advisory in 1964 and changed American society.

The same is true of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS · AIDS). In the 1980s, the American public was unaware of the risk of AIDS, and use of contraceptives such as condoms was low. Accordingly, in 1986, Dr. Everett Coop, who was the 40th president of the United States and the public health director of former President Ronald Reagan, wrote an advisory on the dangers of AIDS and how to prevent it, and succeeded in changing the public’s perception.

In addition to this, drunk driving, obesity, gun accidents, and most recently, public health advisories have been written about loneliness.

Mercy said that teens need family help to prevent them from becoming addicted to social media. In his advisory, he requested that children and parents have a conversation to set standards for their children’s use of social media. He suggested, “To create family bonds and promote conversation, mobile devices such as smartphones should not be used during family mealtimes,” and “set up a plan for using SNS for all members of the family.”

Source: Donga

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