Surgeon General Vivek Murthy shared concerns over children thirteen and under using social media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter.

Murthy and other top scientists cite disturbing mental health trends among young Americans to bolster their claim.

In an interview with Axios, Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and expert on youth social media usage, said “there is a substantial link to depression, and that link tends to be stronger among girls.”

Murthy is recommending mandating higher age restrictions and other guard rails, comparing such regulations to traffic laws that promote safety. “When we had dangerous vehicles on the road, we passed laws to make those vehicles less dangerous,” he told CNN. “We should make decisions to make [social media] a healthier experience that would make kids feel better about themselves and less alone.”

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TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook all have age requirements of twelve and up, while users must be seventeen or older for Twitter. All of these age restrictions, however, are easily circumvented by lying about one’s age.

Seattle’s public school system has sued several big tech companies, citing the youth mental health crisis.

Many Tech CEOs, however, have attempted to downplay such concerns for years, with some social media industry leaders like Mark Zuckerberg arguing that such platforms can actually benefit teen mental health.

“The research that we’ve seen is that using social media apps to… to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits,” the Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram) CEO argued in a 2021 interview.

It remains unclear at this time how or if the age restrictions can be raised legislatively, or whether such regulations could be enforced without unconstitutional infringements on people’s personal internet usage.

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