Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
June 17, 2024

The US surgeon general urges Congress to scrutinize social media's impact on youth mental health with cigarette-like warning labels. (AP File)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The U.S. surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes.

In a Monday opinion piece in the The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in the mental health crisis among young people.

“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. A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe,” Murthy said. “Evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior.”

Murthy said that the use of just a warning label wouldn’t make social media safe for young people, but would be a part of the steps needed.

Prevalence of Social Media Among Youth

Social media use is prevalent among young people, with up to 95% of youth ages 13 to 17 saying that they use a social media platform, and more than a third saying that they use social media “almost constantly,” according to 2022 data from the Pew Research Center.

Last year Murthy warned that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that social media is safe for children and teens. He said at the time that policymakers needed to address the harms of social media the same way they regulate things like car seats, baby formula, medication and other products children use.

Current Regulations and Their Limitations

To comply with federal regulation, social media companies already ban kids under 13 from signing up for their platforms — but children have been shown to easily get around the bans, both with and without their parents’ consent.

Other measures social platforms have taken to address concerns about children’s mental health can also be easily circumvented. For instance, TikTok introduced a default 60-minute time limit for users under 18. But once the limit is reached, minors can simply enter a passcode to keep watching.

Murthy believes the impact of social media on young people should be a more pressing concern.

“Why is it that we have failed to respond to the harms of social media when they are no less urgent or widespread than those posed by unsafe cars, planes or food? These harms are not a failure of willpower and parenting; they are the consequence of unleashing powerful technology without adequate safety measures, transparency or accountability,” he wrote.

Proposed Measures for Enhanced Protection

Murthy said Monday that Congress needs to implement legislation that will protect young people from online harassment, abuse and exploitation and from exposure to extreme violence and sexual content.

“The measures should prevent platforms from collecting sensitive data from children and should restrict the use of features like push notifications, autoplay and infinite scroll, which prey on developing brains and contribute to excessive use,” Murthy wrote.

The surgeon general is also recommending that companies be required to share all their data on health effects with independent scientists and the public, which they currently don’t do, and allow independent safety audits.

Murthy said schools and parents also need to participate in providing phone-free times and that doctors, nurses and other clinicians should help guide families toward safer practices.

While Murthy pushes for more to be done about social media in the United States, the European Union enacted groundbreaking new digital rules last year. The Digital Services Act is part of a suite of tech-focused regulations crafted by the 27-nation bloc — long a global leader in cracking down on tech giants.

The DSA is designed to keep users safe online and make it much harder to spread content that’s either illegal, like hate speech or child sexual abuse, or violates a platform’s terms of service. It also looks to protect citizens’ fundamental rights such as privacy and free speech.

Officials have warned tech companies that violations could bring fines worth up toSurgeon general advocates for social media warning labels similar to cigarettes.The US surgeon general urges Congress to scrutinize social media’s impact on youth mental health with cigarette-like warning labels. 6% of their global revenue — which could amount to billions — or even a ban from the EU.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

DON'T MISS

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

DON'T MISS

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

DON'T MISS

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

DON'T MISS

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

DON'T MISS

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

DON'T MISS

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

DON'T MISS

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

DON'T MISS

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

DON'T MISS

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

UP NEXT

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

UP NEXT

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

UP NEXT

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

UP NEXT

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

UP NEXT

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

UP NEXT

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

UP NEXT

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

UP NEXT

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

UP NEXT

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

UP NEXT

Mexican President Calls Donald Trump ‘a Friend’ and Says He’ll Warn Him Against Closing Border

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

3 hours ago

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

16 hours ago

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

16 hours ago

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

17 hours ago

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

18 hours ago

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

18 hours ago

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

19 hours ago

Mexican President Calls Donald Trump ‘a Friend’ and Says He’ll Warn Him Against Closing Border

19 hours ago

Republicans Grapple With Next Moves if Democrats Replace Biden

19 hours ago

California Judge Halts Hearing in Fight Between State Agricultural Giant and Farmworkers’ Union

19 hours ago

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

“UC Merced, you’re in the city!” Brianna Vaccari The Merced FOCUS That declaration was made by the chair of the Local A...

58 mins ago

58 mins ago

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

3 hours ago

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

3 hours ago

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

3 hours ago

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

16 hours ago

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

16 hours ago

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

17 hours ago

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

18 hours ago

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend