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Thirteen is Too Young for Facebook

The Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy, has recently expressed his belief that children under the age of 13 should not be allowed on social media platforms. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Murthy stated that such platforms can negatively impact a child’s mental health and create unrealistic expectations about how young people should act and react.

“Social media can be a great source of connection and community, but it can also have negative effects on mental health, especially in developing brains," said Dr. Murthy. He went on to argue that the platforms often create an unrealistic expectation of how people should look and act, leading to feelings of inadequacy among young people. Additionally, Dr. Murthy noted that social media can also lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection as users compare themselves to other seemingly more successful individuals.

In order to address this issue, the Surgeon General recommended setting age limits for social media platforms and working with parents and teachers to educate children about the potential risks associated with using them. He also suggested that parents should monitor their children’s social media use and discourage them from engaging in online activities such as sexting or cyberbullying. “It’s important for us to help young people understand the potential harms of too much screen time,” said Dr. Murthy.

The Surgeon General’s statements come on the heels of a study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which found that teenagers who spend more time on social media are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. The study also revealed that those teens exhibited increased amygdala activation when viewing emotionally charged images – indicating that the teens were more likely to experience negative emotions when exposed to such stimuli.

These findings, coupled with Dr. Murthy’s statements, highlight the need for parents and educators to be more mindful of their children’s social media use. By taking proactive steps to protect young people from potential harm associated with excessive screen time, parents and educators can help ensure that children are able to enjoy the benefits of social media without risking their mental health. Ultimately, following Dr. Murthy’s advice could help create healthier environments for our youth.

In response to this awareness, several countries have started implementing age-verification systems that require users to be 18 in order to join certain social media platforms. It remains to be seen whether the US will follow suit, but it is clear that Dr. Murthy’s recommendation should not be ignored.

While I disagree with any government involvement in regard to regulating social media use, it is important for parents and educators to ensure that children are protected from the potential harms associated with social media, and to hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.

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