U.S. Surgeon General Says His Kids Won’t Use Social Media Until They’re This Age

The minimum age for most social sites is 13, but Murthy believes this is too young.

Katie Sue Webber
Katie Sue Webber
Mom to two sweet little boys. Helping moms is her passion.
Last updated
May 30, 2023

As a mom with young kids, you may find yourself wondering when it's appropriate to let your children begin using social media. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy thinks many kids are getting access to these platforms too early.

This is why he and his doctor wife won't be allowing their own children to use social media until they're older. They've found that even their preschool-aged daughter has heard about social media from her friends, showing just how prevalent these platforms have become in young lives.

Typically, the minimum age for most social media sites is 13, but Murthy believes this is still too young. Unfortunately, there's not enough data to definitively say what the ideal age for starting social media use is. Murthy plans to delay his children's exposure to social media at least until after middle school.

Taking such a firm stance on social media use may not be easy, but finding like-minded parents to help enforce these boundaries can make the process smoother.

It's no secret that parenting is often more challenging than ever, with many parents pointing to technology and social media as some of the main reasons for this increased difficulty. Murthy has released a new advisory on social media and youth mental health in response to these concerns.

Some of the risks associated with children using social media include communicating with predatory strangers, exposure to harmful content, and potential mental health issues. Spending over three hours per day on social media can trigger depression and anxiety, and heavy social media use has been linked to poor body image, low self-esteem, and disrupted sleep–especially among young girls.

Echoing parents' concerns, children often admit that social media makes them feel worse about themselves and their relationships while finding it difficult to turn away from these platforms.

Murthy's advisory serves as a way to provide insight based on the publicly available data and conversations with researchers. He ultimately concludes that there isn't enough evidence to confidently declare social media as being sufficiently safe for children.

Recent advisories from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) echo these concerns, recommending screenings for teens who frequently use social media for depression and anxiety symptoms. However, they also acknowledge that social media can have its benefits for some children, like helping them to connect with their peers.

Parents and caregivers can utilize Murthy's advisory for tips on establishing healthier social media habits and boundaries in their homes. Emphasizing the role of policymakers and technology companies in prioritizing young users' health and safety is also crucial.

As Murthy states, "As parents, we should not have to just accept the fact that our children will be exploited online or that they may be bullied or harassed online, or that they may be made to feel worse about themselves online." As a mom, it's important to consider how social media may impact your kids and make decisions that prioritize their wellbeing.

Read more (via Today)

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