Scrolling Towards Anxiety: The Surgeon General’s Warning On Social Media

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The US government now says that social media is driving the current teen mental health crisis.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has issued a warning that social media use is a main contributor to depression, anxiety and other problems in the nation’s teenagers.
I’m willing to bet this is a much bigger and global issue.

Are we shocked by this?

Not at all.
The report, Social Media and Youth Mental Health, urges policymakers and the companies that make the social media platforms to share with parents the burden of managing children’s and adolescents’ social media use.
To that, I (sadly) say: “Good luck.”

Attention is money.

Data is money.
The minute that social media gets turned off, the money stops.
The incentive to stop this madness is not there.

We all need new incentives and rules for social media.

If you have not read the book, Stolen Focus, by Johann Hari, you should.
If you won’t read the book, listen to my conversation with Johann right here: SPOS #873 – Johann Hari On The Attention Crisis And Reclaiming Our Focus.
The surgeon general’s report outlines recommendations for both tech companies and lawmakers to protect teenagers from excessive use and harmful content.
With that, it’s going to take more than parent’s intervention.
Do you know any teens that would open their social network and messaging to their parents?
According to this report…

95% of teens aged 13-17 use social media.

Nearly 40% of children aged 8-12 use social media.
Most platforms have a minimum age of 13.
The report pulls together research linking social media and poor mental health in adolescents, with a 2019 study finding that teens who spent more than three hours a day on social media “faced double the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

This doesn’t even discuss the addictive qualities of social media and how parents are often just as addicted as teens (maybe more?).

Do you think this report will change anything?
Do you think regulation will work?
Do you think parents are willing to dig in on this issue?

And, let’s not forget, that everyone is worried about AI in a world where we’ve let social media fester like this for close to 20 years.

What is Tech Tuesday?

Every Tuesday – for just a few minutes – I join Heather Backman (my old buddy from her days on CHOM FM and Jack 103) on the air at 95.9 Star FM to give a quick blast about the current state of technology, media and Internet culture.
We call it Tech Tuesday (and we do it in just a few minutes).

Once the segment goes live on 95.9 Star FM, I will post it here for you to listen in, learn, share and engage.