Surgeon General Calls For Warning Labels On Social Media Apps

SAN ANSELMO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: In this photo illustration, the Facebook and Instagram apps are seen on the screen of an iPhone on October 04, 2021 in San Anselmo, California. Social media applications Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are experiencing a global outage that started before 9 a.m. (P.S.T.) on Monday morning. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
In this photo illustration, the Facebook and Instagram apps are seen on the screen of an iPhone on October 04, 2021 in San Anselmo, California.(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
2:30 PM – Monday, June 17, 2024

In order to help inhibit the rising mental health crisis in today’s youth, the U.S. surgeon general has called on the country to impose “tobacco-style” warning labels on social media platforms.


On Monday, in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned about the dangers of minors using social media too frequently and for too long of a duration at such a young age. 

Murthy explained that he thinks it would be beneficial for people who visit these platforms to be shown a warning message below that says something along the lines of: this app is “associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents.”

He claimed that a label would “regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe”.

In the piece, Murthy also pointed to several studies that show a correlation between mental health harms, such as anxiety or depression, and time spent on social media. 

He called the current mental health crisis an “emergency,” and said it is “time to require a surgeon general’s warning label” on platforms, which is similar to how tobacco products display a warning on its labeling.

He added, “evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior.”

Murthy believes that if the U.S. implemented a surgeon general’s warning on social media platforms, it would better persuade parents to limit or restrict their children’s social media use. 

Additionally, recent studies have shown that children between 12 and 15-years-old who used social media for more than three hours a day faced twice the risk of having mental health challenges than those who didn’t. 

Another study from The Digital Wellness Lab’s Pulse Survey, showed that nearly half of young people reported feeling much worse about their bodies after using social media. 

Murthy claimed that despite the knowledge that the public already has about social media harms, it still remains too easily accessible. 

“Why is it that we have failed to respond to the harms of social media when they are no less urgent or widespread than those posed by unsafe cars, planes or food? These harms are not a failure of willpower and parenting; they are the consequence of unleashing powerful technology without adequate safety measures, transparency or accountability,” Murthy wrote.

However, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), social media is “not inherently beneficial or harmful”, though it warns of problematic use and wants content removed which encourages harm.

The group also stated that children under 14-years-old should be monitored while using social media. 

Furthermore, Murthy called on public health leaders, educators, school administrators, and parents to make a collective effort to keep young people away from social media as often as possible.

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