Should we restrict smarphone, social media usage for kids?

We are in the midst of a mental health crisis in this country.

Although there are many factors, a large body of scientific research has provided evidence that for youth, smartphones and social media have resulted in a physical onslaught of negative, psychological, and social outcomes.

The time has come to ask: Should legal restrictions be placed on minors when it comes to personal smartphones and social media accounts? Here are four key considerations.

First, scientific evidence is increasingly supporting the idea that the mobile device/social media “experiment” with our youth is one of the worst developments in history. Research highlights the significant risk they pose. On March 22, the chief science officer of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Mitch Prinstein, sent an unprecedented letter to the US Surgeon General. The letter asked the surgeon general to launch a public education campaign about the “specific dangers social media poses to adolescents” and the best methods to keep youth safe.

Outlined in the letter were key findings from science detailing how social media can “exploit biological vulnerabilities among youth” specifically associated with their developmental stage, which leads to reduced health and well-being, increased illicit behaviors, misguided peer influence, and increased peer victimization and harassment.

James Schroeder

Meanwhile, also noted in the letter, tech companies continue to display a “lack of transparency” regarding methods designed to reward greater usage among youth.

I recently discussed this issue on a radio show, and one of the hosts remarked that “we all know it is a train wreck, but we don’t know what to do about it.” All the expert recommendations, often involving education and monitoring, have failed miserably. It has been 15 years since the iPhone has been released, and despite efforts to teach appropriate use, the situation is worse than ever.

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