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Social Media Officially Declared a Health Threat

A girl looking sad (right) overlays a picture of someone texting and using social media apps.
Source: Canva

The mayor of New York City has officially declared social media platforms a mental health crisis in the up-and-coming generation. MSN states that the mayor seeks to hold social media platforms, like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, accountable for the negative role that they have played in shaping the youth of tomorrow. Here’s what we know.

MSN has quoted Mayor Eric Adams in his latest State of the City address, in which he said: “Just as the surgeon general did with tobacco and guns, we are treating social media like other public health hazards. That’s why today, Dr. Ashwin Vasan is issuing a Health Commissioner Advisory, officially designating social media as a public health crisis hazard in New York City. 

Adams specifically called out the “dangerous” design features that many platforms have, designed to pull in the viewer for hours at a time. 

His stance was strengthened as the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Ashwin Vasan, M.D., came forward with a statement regarding the deteriorating mental health of our youth — per MSN.

The outlet cited that per the advisory, youth hopelessness rates in New York City have increased by 42% since 2011, over a decade ago. Many consider 2011 as the “dawn” of widespread social media use, which could be a possible reason for this starting point of decline. 

Additionally, per the report, suicidal ideation had increased by over 34% across that same time period. 

In his address, Dr. Vasan indicated that the average high schooler in New York City spends about three or more hours per day on social media platforms of their choice during school hours — let alone any that they may engage with after school or at other points in their week. 

Reportedly, per MSN, this heavy social media usage has discouraged many from continuing in their regular extracurricular activities. 

Per MSN, Dr. Vasan’s advisory continued: “Social media has become an increasingly ubiquitous and impactful part of the lives of NYC youth, especially with the advent of smartphones, algorithmic targeting of content, and monetization of user-generated content.” 

The inference is that parents and educators should step forward and demonstrate responsible social media use, allowing students to see a real-time example that can help them move forward with healthier management steps. 

At the time of this publication, New York City is among the first ever to label social media a public health threat, though the scientific community has long-discussed the effects of social media use. 

Per the news site, Dr. Vasan has asked that teachers and caregivers promote exclusive and consistent “tech-free time” to keep the standard of quality interpersonal connections that can be so easily lost to social media. 

Intervention in this way might possibly help offset the potential negative effects of social media, such as mental health concerns, insecurity, cyberbullying, and other maladies. 

It is unclear if New York City schools will be taking steps to limit tech at this time.


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