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Surgeon general calls for warning labels on social media platforms

Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy on Monday called for warning labels, similar to those placed on cigarettes, for social media. File Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI
Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy on Monday called for warning labels, similar to those placed on cigarettes, for social media. File Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on Monday called for Congress to take action in ordering social media platforms to post warning labels similar to those attached to cigarettes.

Murthy wrote in a New York Times op-ed that statistics are clear about the effect social media has on adolescents, particularly those who are facing anxiety and depression issues. He said that while warning labels only won't protect young people it's a first step in the acknowledgment of its dangers.

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"The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency -- and social media has emerged as an important contributor," Murthy wrote. "Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms."

He said the average time adolescents spend on social media had increased to 4.8 hours a day in the summer of 2023.

"It is time to require a surgeon general's warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents," Murthy said.

"A surgeon general's warning label, which requires Congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proven safe."

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He said in a recent study of Latino parents, 76% said a surgeon general's warning on social media sites would prompt them to limit and monitor their children's activities on the platform.

"To be clear, a warning label would not, on its own, make social media safe for young people," Murthy said. "The advisory I issued a year ago about social media and young people's mental health included specific recommendations."

Last year, Murthy, called on legislators to set guidelines on the risks social media causes young people and the need for such an advisory.

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