Image source: Parent Map
Teenagers: In the digital age, social media has had a big influence on people’s daily lives.
The bulk of users are millennials, who have grown up with technology and shaped the internet world.
On the other hand, Gen Zs are developing and starting to use social media as early as 13-year-old teenagers, according to experts.
Finding their identity
Children should wait until they are 13 years old to create profiles on social networking sites, according to US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Murthy emphasized that although many websites allow teenagers that old to sign up, they are still just trying to figure themselves out.
For the social networking sites listed below, 13-year-olds can sign up:
“I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early,” said Murthy.
“It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationship and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children.”
The growing usage of social media among teenagers worries medical specialists.
They emphasized a number of academic research on the potential harms that the platforms may do to teenagers.
Vivek Murthy recognized that it would be difficult to discourage teenagers from using social media given their widespread use.
However, parents could succeed if they put up a unified front.
“If parents can band together and say you know, as a group, we’re not going to allow our kids to use social media until 16 or 17 or 18 or whatever age they choose,” he offered.
“That’s a much more effective strategy in making sure your kids don’t get exposed to harm early.”
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Teenagers who use social media frequently have their brain chemistry changed, according to recent research.
According to a research that was released in January by JAMA Pediatrics, teenagers who often check social media exhibit increased neuronal sensitivity in some regions of their brains.
Their brains are more sensitive to social repercussions as a result.
Psychiatrist Dr. Adriana Stacey and her colleagues have raised the topic throughout the years.
The majority of the people Stacey deals with are college students and teenagers, and she claims that using social media causes a “dopamine dump.”
“When we do things that are addictive like use cocaine or use smartphones, our brains release a lot of dopamine at once,” she said. “It tells our break to keep using that.”
“For teenagers in particular, this part of their brain is actually hyperactive compared to adults. They can’t get motivated to do anything else.”
More time spent in front of a screen may affect brain development, according to recent studies.
For instance, younger children’s less developed reading and language skills were substantially connected with increased screen usage.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has heightened concerns about social media.
He recently expressed his worries regarding social media in an opinion post for Bulwark that addressed loneliness and mental health.
“We have lost something as a society, as so much of our life has turned into screen-to-screen communication,” said Murphy.
“It just doesn’t give you the same sense of value and the same sense of satisfaction as talking to somebody or seeing someone.”
The senator and surgeon general are both intimately familiar with the negative impacts of social media addiction.
Both Chris Murphy and Vivek Murthy are fathers; while Vivek has small children, Murphy has teenagers.
“It’s not coincidental that Dr. Murthy and I are probably talking more about this issue of loneliness more than others in public life,” said Murphy.
“I look at this through the prism of my 14-year-old and my 11-year-old.”
Chris Murphy went on to claim that the US is not a defenseless nation despite confronting Big Tech.
He thinks that government could take a number of steps to prevent teenagers from using social media, while also pressuring businesses to develop less addictive algorithms.
When speaking about the problem of addictive algorithms, Murthy claimed that teenagers and Big Tech aren’t in a fair fight.
“You have some of the best designers and product developers in the world who have designed these products to make sure people are maximizing the amount of time they spend on these platforms,” said the surgeon general.
“And if we tell a child, use the force of your willpower to control how much time you’re spending, you’re pitting a child against the world’s greatest product designers.”
Chris Murphy is hopeful about the future of social media in despite the obstacles.
“None of this is out of our control. When we had dangerous vehicles on the road, we passed laws to make those vehicles less dangerous,” he said.
“We should make decisions to make [social media] a healthier experience that would make kids feel better about themselves and less alone.”