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US Surgeon General Calls for Warning Labels on Social Media to Combat Youth Mental Health Crisis

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Due to continued reports of online platforms harming young Americans, the U.S. Surgeon General is calling for social media to carry warning labels. 

"Everyone knows someone harmed by social media, everyone knows a girl who's cutting herself out of anxiety," said social psychologist and best-selling author Jonathan Haidt. 

Haidt links the rise in mental health issues to the widespread use of smartphones and handheld devices. And the science would seem to back that up. 

Several studies show adolescents spending more than three hours each day on social media report high levels of anxiety and depression. Increase that to five or more hours and a suicidal risk factor comes into play. Teens already spend an average of four to six hours online each day, according to a Gallup Poll. These numbers are driving U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy to call for drastic action. 

"Now, a warning label would help parents understand these risks," Dr. Murthy said. 

His idea of tobacco-style warning labels would require congressional action. 

"Keep in mind when Congress provided these labels for tobacco more than half a century ago, smoking within America was above 40 percent," said Dr. Murthy. "Today, it's under 12 percent. That's an extraordinary amount of progress, labels were a part of that effort."

Dr. Murthy also wants Congress to protect children from harmful online content and companies collecting sensitive data. A groundbreaking Florida law could pave the way for other states, seeking to do that. 

"We know from law enforcement and prosecutors that social media is the primary platform in which children are trafficked," said Florida House Speaker Paul Renner. 

Renner played a crucial role in updating a law that would prevent kids under 14 from using social media and prohibit minors from accessing pornography. 

"Truly, these platforms are using addiction, not just for kids – but for adults too – to keep us online as long as possible," said Renner. "So, we do see other states looking at what we've done, we see the national conversation." 

On a larger perspective, Dr. Haidt argues social media has altered social interaction to such a degree among children that historic social norms have been disrupted. 

"We used to have a play-based society for the last 50 million years – that's what mammals do. Young mammals, they must play, a lot. If you've ever had a puppy, you'd know. But we took our children out of that in the 90s and said, 'Okay, no more outside play, you have to be supervised all the time.' The loss of a play-based society set them up for a weakness and fragility," Haidt said.

Social media stocks took a dip on Monday after the Surgeon General's call to action. Now Americans are waiting to see how tech giants like Meta, X, and TikTok respond. 

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About The Author


Brody Carter has been reporting and anchoring at CBN since 2021. In his time at CBN, he has found his stride in national news, including political and foreign affairs, extreme weather, and in-depth faith-based reporting. Brody frequently covers news for The 700 Club, Faith Nation, Newswatch, and Christian World News. Brody is passionate about news and displays standout dedication and work ethic in the field. Since starting at CBN, Brody has not only grown as a journalist but also as a person of faith thanks to close family, friends, co-workers, and the church body in Virginia Beach. He