U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks during the United States Conference of Mayors 91st Winter Meeting January 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. The United States Conference of Mayors is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Later this week, President Joe Biden will welcome mayors to the White House.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has issued a warning regarding the impact of social media and its “profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” In the 19-page advisory released on Tuesday (May 23), Murthy urged Americans to pay close attention to this “urgent public health issue.”

“Our children have become unknowing participants in a decades-long experiment,” the advisory stated. “In early adolescence, when identities and sense of self-worth are forming, brain development is especially susceptible to social pressures, peer opinions and peer comparison.” According to the advisory, up to 95% of youth ages 13–17 report use a social media platform. More than a third of that says they use social media “almost constantly.” Even 40% of children ages 8–12 also use social media.

In an interview with The New York Times, the Surgeon General said children are impacted by too much exposure to social apps. “They’re in a different phase of development, and they’re in a critical phase of brain development,” he told the publication. The report also encouraged parents to monitor their children’s social media use. In addition, implementing a “family media plan” where screen-time expectations could be set.

RELATED: Teens Checking Social Media Constantly Are Changing Their Brains

Social media exposure is linked to conditions including eating disorders, body dysmorphia and low self-esteem, per the report, with some evidence also pointing to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Though Murthy’s advisory didn’t condemn social media use for young adults and children, it concluded: “We do not yet have enough evidence to determine if social media is sufficiently safe for children and adolescents.”

Last week, Montana became the first state to issue a statewide TikTok ban. The legislation passed in both the state House and Senate this spring. It cited both security concerns and argued that the popular social media platform “directs minors to engage in dangerous activities” in order to generate content, such as “throwing objects at moving automobiles, taking excessive amounts of medication,” and “licking doorknobs and toilet seats to place oneself at risk of contracting coronavirus.”

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