(UnitedVoice.com) – Social media apps generally require users to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. There is some concern about the impact these websites have on kids. The US surgeon general has now weighed in on the issue.
On Sunday, January 29, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy appeared on CNN’s “Newsroom.” He said that based on the data he has seen, he doesn’t think 13 is old enough for children to use social media. He went on to explain that at that age, “kids are developing their identity [and] their sense of self.”
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says 13 is too early for kids to be using social media — and that there should be safety standards implemented https://t.co/PenKs3sxjD pic.twitter.com/iI16csAXfG
— CNN (@CNN) January 30, 2023
Murthy went on to say social media has a “skewed and often distorted environment” that interferes with children’s development.
Over the years, bullying has been a serious problem on the platforms. Forbes reported on a McAfee study last year that found kids as young as 10 are being bullied on social media. Bullying includes harassment, sexual harassment, personal attacks, and other forms. This behavior can lead to tragedy offline.
In 2022, 15-year-old Nate Bronstein committed suicide after he was bullied by his classmates online in Chicago. That same year, 16-year-old McKenna Brown ended her own life after being cyberbullied. Two years prior, in 2020, 16-year-old Carson Bride took his own life after he was harassed on Snapchat. The list goes on and on.
In addition to the bullying, there are viral challenges online that teenagers try out and can sometimes die. An adult knows that these things are dangerous, but a teen’s brain is not fully developed, so they don’t have the same reasoning skills.
In November 2022, Bloomberg reported at least five children ages 13 and 14 died in the previous 18 months while attempting the viral blackout challenge. That’s when kids would basically tie a noose around their necks and choke themselves until they passed out. Shockingly, another 15 kids aged 12 and younger also died; some of them lost their lives after lying about their ages to create social media accounts. In other cases, kids have broken bones and fractured their skulls, trying out stunts they saw on social media.
It’s not clear if the surgeon general intends to take steps to limit the use of social media for teens.
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