Should 13-year-olds be banned from social media? The doctor says it’s too soon

School district sues social media giants for ‘creating youth mental health crisis’

Are 13-year-olds too young to be on social media? The doctor says yes, US public health worker Dr. Vivek Murthy recently said that 13-year-olds are too young to be on social media.

However, many popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow access to users above this age.

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“Personally, based on the data I’ve seen, I think 13 is too early,” Murthy said on “CNN Newsroom.”

“This is a time when it’s really important for us to reflect what’s happening in the way they think about their values ​​and relationships, and the biased and often distorted environment of social media often does many of these kids a disservice. »

YouTube’s parent company, Google, does not allow children under the age of 13 to create their own Google Accounts. YouTube allows parents to create a “supervised account” for children under 13 and can control their content settings.

In most cases, social media sites require people to enter their date of birth to register as a user.

social media life

Dr. Murthy told CNN that being on social media is not good for teenagers.

He didn’t mention whether there was any official guidance or advice based on this prospect, but he suggested that parents come together to keep their young teens off social media.

Importantly, social media use has been linked to depression and anxiety symptoms and body image problems in some teens. According to research and studies, heavy social media use can also be linked to lower levels of life satisfaction a year later.

A large study shows that heavy use of social media by teenagers in adulthood is associated with lower life satisfaction a year later. However, not all teens have these experiences, and researchers still struggle to understand who is most at risk for the negative effects of social media.

It is not yet clear whether there are differences in mental health effects depending on when children start using social media.

social media life

Dr Murthy also called for action to address youth mental health issues, noting that technology can have many benefits for young people, but can also expose children to unhealthy content.

Murthy’s comments come more than a year after he issued an advisory highlighting the crisis in young people’s mental health and saying the need to tackle the problem was “critical”.

“We still know very little about the age at which young people should be using social media, especially since social media use is so diverse and affects different people in different ways,” said Amy Orben, a psychologist who runs the Digital Mental Health program. at Cambridge University.

Advice for parents on limiting children’s screen and social media use

Raising a teenager

Social media is becoming more and more a part of everyday life, and this can be overwhelming for some parents who want to limit their children’s use of it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that young people get no more than two hours of screen time per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends total abstinence from screens even for children younger than 2 years old.

For older children, it is important to set individualized screen time limits based on their age. Parents can encourage physical activity and set limits for older children, such as no social media use during homework.

A 2019 special report by ABC News’ Dayne Sawyer examined the effects of screen time and social media on children and teenagers.

5 tips for limiting screen and social media use for kids:

  • Except for rare family FaceTime moments, children under 18 months should avoid screens altogether.
  • Children over the age of 2 should not use screens for more than one hour a day under parental supervision.
  • Parents should have an open discussion with family members about screen time.
  • Parents and children should agree on screen-free times to spend time together.
  • The consequences of exceeding screen time should be discussed in advance.

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