5-speed listening (Social Media - Level 3)

Top US doctor wants social media health warnings



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Social media has changed the world. There are good and bad things about it. One bad thing is that it can cause mental health problems. This is something the USA's top doctor wants to address. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wants social media companies to display mental health warnings on their platforms. He is particularly worried about the harm the platforms do to young people. He said algorithms lead youngsters to extreme sexual and violent content. Dr Murthy said: "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." He said laws were also needed to keep young people safe online.

Dr Murthy has campaigned for tighter controls of social media for many years. In 2023, he warned that social media presented, "a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents". His recent warning is in a guest essay published by The New York Times. He wrote: "The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency. Social media has emerged as an important contributor." He has concerns about how long young people spend online. He said youngsters "who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms". Murthy thinks online warnings will help, just as warnings on cigarettes have helped.

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