Surgeon General warns social media is contributing to mental health crisis in youth

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - In an advisory released Tuesday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warns social media is a main contributor to depression, anxiety and other problems in teens.

“I am very concerned now that social media is an important factor that is driving this youth mental health crisis,” Murthy said.

The concern surrounding social media and its impact on the mental health of teens isn’t new. But that concern is now being elevated by Murthy, who hopes to shine more light on what he calls a ‘public health crisis’.

“While social media offers them an opportunity for connection and self-expression, it’s also posing a significant challenge,” Dawn Smith said.

Dawn Smith is a therapist at Courageous Healing in Fort Wayne. Along with being a therapist, Smith has another job: being a mom.

Smith understands the dangers of social media. So much so, she kept her now 19-year-old son offline until he was 16 and says she’s doing the same for her seven-year-old daughter.

“We wanted to protect them from that exposure and constant pressure to be like everyone else,” Smith said.

Smith knows that strategy doesn’t work for every family but says there are other ways to protect kids from the harms of social media.

“Children have feelings just as we as adults do, so not dismissing their feelings, listen to what they say, promoting self-acceptance and cultivating real life connections that nurture their well-being,” Smith said.

Smith isn’t the only one with advice. Ella Keen from the YWCA of northeast Indiana agrees that social media can be dangerous and urges kids to listen to her advice.

“I would just encourage everyone to remember that real life isn’t social media,” Keen said. “What you’re seeing happens behind the post. What you’re seeing, what you’re experiencing is quite different from what you’re seeing when you scroll through that platform.”