Dr. Vivek Murthy, the leading health authority in the Joe Biden Administration, has issued a report expressing concern about the negative impact that digital abuse can have on the brain development of minors. In his opinion, children’s and adolescents’ access to social networks should be limited due to the growing concern among parents, researchers, and experts about the effects on young people’s mental health. Dr. Murthy stresses that children and adolescents cannot afford to wait until the impact of these platforms on them is fully understood.
The report points out that the length of exposure to social networks is a determining factor in the damage they can cause. Although most adolescents find benefits in using social networks, such as feeling accepted and expressing their creativity, experts warn that more than three hours a day of use can increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Social network abuse can also have consequences for physical health, such as eating disorders, as well as for self-esteem and social interaction, especially in girls.
Dr. Murthy argues that the government has a responsibility to provide tools to navigate safely in the digital environment. He calls on technology companies to prioritize the safety and mental health of children and adolescents in the design and development of their products and services and to share their research findings with independent experts and the public. It also recommends setting a minimum age for use of the platforms and educating minors on how to respond to cyberbullying and online abuse.
The report highlights the need for parents to set limits and rules for social media use, protect personal data, and limit the use of electronic devices before bedtime to preserve sleep. In addition, it suggests that companies establish committees of scientists and experts to advise on creating safe spaces for minors online.
Overall, the report stresses the importance of taking precautions and educating both families, policymakers, and technology companies to protect minors from the harmful effects of digital abuse and promote their mental and emotional well-being.