New York is first city to declare social media a public health hazard

New York is first city to declare social media a public health hazard

New York City on Wednesday designated social media a public health hazard because of its impact on youth mental health, Mayor Eric Adams (D) said in a speech, becoming the first major U.S. city to take such a step.

“Companies like TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and others have exacerbated the mental health crisis by designing addictive and dangerous features on their platforms,” ​​Adams said during her annual State of the City address.

In response, he said New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan “is issuing a Health Commissioner recommendation to formally designate social media as a public health crisis hazard in New York City.”

“As [U.S.] The surgeon general has taken action on tobacco and guns, and we view social media as another public health hazard that must stop,” Adams said.

In an advisory released that day, Wasan outlined the worsening mental health situation among New York City’s youth and provided guidance for young people to encourage healthy use of social media, such as implementing technology-free times and places; monitoring during use mood; Share concerns related to social media and mental health with adults.

The student mental health crisis is much worse than we realize

Up to 95% of American teens use some form of social media, with many looking for a place to connect with friends, discuss interests, and keep up with trends. But as young people face an unprecedented mental health crisis Some have been linked to social media, There are growing concerns about the use of these platforms and the addictive habits they can create.

Several social media companies, including TikTok and YouTube, have responded to growing scrutiny by adding new features to give parents more control over their children’s activities and limit the time they spend online, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

TikTok, Google and Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Thursday.

Last May, Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy issued an advisory saying there was insufficient evidence to determine whether social media was “safe enough for children and adolescents.” “Given the current youth mental health crisis, we can no longer ignore the potential impact of social media on the suffering that millions of children and families are experiencing,” Murthy wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

An advisory report released Wednesday by the New York City Health Commissioner said that between 2011 and 2021, the rate of hopelessness among the city’s high school students increased by more than 42% and the rate of suicidal ideation increased by more than 34%. “Youth who are Black, Latinx, female, or LGBTQ+ experience despair at disproportionately high rates,” the report states.

Officials say social media is harming teens. Scientists say it’s complicated.

Ofir Turel, a professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia who studies the impact of technology on behavior, praised New York City’s recommendations for acknowledging the possible risks of social media but stopped short of calling for its outright elimination.

Turrell noted “body image, social comparison, depression, [and] One of the possible drawbacks of social media is “addictive use,” but he said “it also has many positive aspects.”

He advocates for a so-called “food regulatory model” that encourages healthy habits through methods such as food nutrition labelling, rather than imposing restrictions.

“While we’re not very good at it, many people manage to eat some level of healthy food. The same goes for social media,” he said. “We just need knowledge and motivation.”

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