A new report by the U.S. Surgeon General warns that social media poses a “profound risk of harm” to the mental health of children and teens, The New York Times reports.
While social media can be beneficial to some people, it is also filled with “extreme, inappropriate and harmful content, including content that can normalize self-harm, eating disorders and other self-destructive behavior, the report said. Cyberbullying is a widespread problem.
The report by Dr. Vivek Murthy includes recommendations to help families make decisions about children’s use of social media. Families should keep mealtimes and in-person gatherings free of devices, the report advises. This will help build social bonds and promote conversation. Parents should create a “family media plan” to set expectations around social media use. This includes keeping personal information private and setting boundaries around content.
Technology companies should enforce minimum age limits and create default settings for children with high standards for privacy and safety, the report said. These companies have a vested interest in keeping users online, and employ tactics that keep people engaged in addictive-like behaviors, the report said.