PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Teens and smartphones go hand in hand, but according to the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, constant scrolling is having a negative effect on their mental health. His office released a report Tuesday warning of the dangers of social media.
Dr. Samuel Scott, a pediatric psychiatrist at CKHD, sees it a lot in patients he treats.
“I see it a lot of times more of a reflection of kind of the other symptoms they’re experiencing,” he said.
Depression and anxiety among teens are at an all time high, nationwide. At the same time, the Surgeon General’s report cites up to 95% of teens say they are on social media almost constantly.
“The impact of social media varies so much depending on what’s going on,” Dr. Scott said.
He agrees with the report, which states that while sometimes technology increases self esteem and builds communities, other times it erodes self worth.
“It really varies so widely from person to person what’s supportive, what’s harmful,” said Dr. Scott.
The report recommends more research, and offers tips and resources for families.
“One of the things that really stood out to me was really kind of modeling how to have a healthy relationship with social media. The solution isn’t just to take away social media; it’s not going anywhere,” Dr. Scott told WAVY.
The report also includes recommendations for lawmakers to ensure we have strong safety standards, and recommendations for technology companies to be more transparent and create better tools to protect teens.
So how old should a child be to use social media? The report said there is no clear information, but Dr. Murthy believes 13 is too young.
Dr. Scott said it’s less about a number and more about knowing your child and knowing what who they are talking to and what they are seeing online. “If you have questions or concerns about their social media, the first step is to talk with them about it — find out what’s going on and if needed seek professional help.”
Click here to read the U.S. Surgeon General advisory report titled “Protecting Youth Mental Health.”