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Should social media apps be labeled dangerous for kids?

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General, discusses the importance of social connection to our mental and physical well-being with actor Matthew McConaughey, a University of Texas professor.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General, discusses the importance of social connection to our mental and physical well-being with actor Matthew McConaughey, a University of Texas professor.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is demanding Congress require a safety label on social media apps like cigarettes and alcohol, citing that teens who use them for three hours a day double their risk of depression.

Murthy has a history of advocating for mental health: He issued a similar advisory last year categorizing loneliness as a health crisis comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.


So far, Congress hasn’t done much to curb children’s social media usage, apart from chastising a few tech CEOs and targeting TikTok as a national security threat. Murthy’s emergency declaration on Monday was a call for concrete action.

“A surgeon general’s warning label,” Murthy argued in a recent op-ed in the New York Times, “would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe.”

Would it work? Labels on tobacco did lead to a steady decline in adolescent cigarette smoking over the past several decades (that is, until vapes came along … but that’s another story). Murthy acknowledged, however, that a warning label alone wouldn’t fix that the average teen spends nearly five hours a day scrolling, and also suggested that schools, family dinners, and anyone in middle school or below, stay phone-free.

What do you think? Should social media apps be labeled as dangerous for children? Let us know here.

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