May 26, 2023

Surgeon General Advisory: Social media presents ‘profound risk of harm’ for kids

Surgeon General Issues Advisory: 
Social media presents ‘profound risk of harm’ for kids

Enough Is Enough® (EIE) applauds the efforts of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to shine a national spotlight on the harms of social media.

EIE has been exposing the tragedy of the online exploitation of children for 30 years. 

Sadly, it often takes a public health crisis get government and Congress to say Enough Is Enough®! Parents cannot shoulder the entire burden of protecting their children in the digital age from online predators and pornographers, and even technology platforms who put profits over the safety and welfare of children.

The advisory issued Tuesday by the Surgeon General, which acknowledges both social media's benefits and harms to young people, calls for increased research into its impact on youth mental health, as well as action from policymakers and technology companies.

The advisory notes:

  • social media use among kids is “nearly universal”: 95% of kids ages 13 to 17 report using social media; more than a third saying they use it “almost constantly.” 

  • although 13 is the minimum age to use social media sites in the US, nearly 40% of kids ages 8 to 12 use the platforms. (*EIE will continue to push for the implementation of widely available age verification technology to keep kids under 13 from using these age-inappropriate platforms.)

  • correlations between social media use and depression and anxiety, as well as poor sleep, online harassment and low self-esteem, particularly for girls.

View the advisory here.

“For too long, we have placed the entire burden of managing social media on the shoulders of parents and kids, despite the fact that these platforms are designed by some of the most talented engineers and designers in the world to maximize the amount of time that our kids spend on them. So that is not a fair fight. "
-Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, CNN interview May 23, 2023

It is necessary for the current Administration to recognize the harms caused by unregulated social media companies who avoid accountability and corporate responsibility by trying to hide behind Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Both federal and state government must prioritize efforts to curb the online exploitation of children. It takes all of us doing our part.

Enough Is Enough® has been fighting to make the internet safer since 1994, leading national campaigns and policy-advocacy efforts to hold social media platforms accountable as they are putting our children's welfare at risk! We really could use your support to FUND THE FIGHT. Every gift, no matter the size, will help! Please, consider making your most generous gift and help invest in the welfare of our children!