Parallels Between Social Media and Tobacco Regulation

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U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has sounded the alarm on the mental health risks posed by social media platforms, drawing parallels to the federal government’s historical response to the harms of tobacco. In a recent op-ed, Murthy called for tobacco-style warning labels on social media, citing evidence that extended usage can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts among adolescents.

 

 

The Surgeon General’s proposal has received bipartisan support from lawmakers, who recognize the need for comprehensive action to protect young people from the addictive nature of these platforms. Murthy emphasized that a warning label alone would not be enough, urging Congress, companies, and the public to collectively address the issue through a range of regulatory measures.

 

 

These measures could include restricting the collection of sensitive data from minors, limiting features that contribute to excessive usage, and mandating that tech firms share health-related data with independent researchers and undergo safety audits. Murthy also advocated for schools to establish phone-free social time and classroom learning, and for parents to delay granting access to social media until after middle school.

 

 

The Surgeon General’s call for action reflects a growing awareness of the mental health crisis facing young people in the digital age. By drawing parallels to the federal government’s successful efforts to curb tobacco use, Murthy hopes to spur a similar response that prioritizes the well-being of adolescents over the profits of social media companies.

 

Bénédicte Lin – Brussels, Paris, London, Seoul, Bangkok, Tokyo, New York, Taipei, Hong Kong
Bénédicte Lin – Brussels, Paris, London, Seoul, Bangkok, Tokyo, New York, Taipei, Hong Kong
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