A top US health official has called for cigarette-style health warning labels to be applied to social media apps.

In an editorial for The New York TimesDr. Vivek Murthy called for taking the necessary step to remind users that online platforms are “associated with significant harm to the mental health of adolescents.”

The US Surgeon General believes that social media is a major driver toward “a mental health crisis among people,” and feels that introducing labels would regularly remind young people and parents that “social media has not been proven to be safe.”

Dr. Murthy’s motivation for implementing warnings on social media comes from the precedent of cigarette packs carrying explicit messages for decades. “Smoking causes blindness” and “Cigarettes cause cancer” are two examples of the brief, stark warnings familiar to smokers on both sides of the Atlantic.

These labels were first applied in the United States in 1966, after then-Surgeon General Leather L. Terry linked tobacco to lung cancer in a published report, and the United Kingdom adopted the same approach in 1971.

Social media ‘not inherently harmful’: report

Murthy has linked warnings on cigarettes to awareness of the harm caused, and wants people to think about social media with an awareness of its effects. Damage. It is believed that this will also encourage parents to pay closer attention to their children’s online activity and well-being.

“Teenagers who spend more than three hours a day on social media have double the risk of developing symptoms of anxiety and depression,” Dr. Murthy said.

“The average daily use in this age group, as of summer 2023, was 4.8 hours. Additionally, nearly half of teens say social media makes them feel bad about their bodies.

Even if the Surgeon General gets support for this initiative, it will face significant resistance along the way.

Any proposed legislation should be so Passed by Congress With a high-stakes political battle likely to end, as well as fierce resistance from social media giants like Meta, TikTok and X.

These strong companies will likely look towards a Study last year Which found no evidence linking the global spread of Facebook to significant psychological harm, while the American Psychological Association stated that social media are “neither inherently beneficial nor harmful,” although it advises against harmful use and supports the removal of any content that encourages harm.

Image credit: Idogram

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