Fox News host Trey Gowdy welcomed Log Off Movement co-founder Emma Lembke on “Sunday Night in America” to discuss the efforts to address concerns around social media’s impact on the youth’s mental health.
Lembke told Gowdy, “We need to take on as many different voices into this mix and really attack this with as many stakeholders involved.”
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy sounded off on the “youth mental health crisis in America” earlier this week on ABC News.
“Social media has become an important contributor to the pain and the struggles that many of our young people are facing,” Dr. Murthy said. He called for new safeguards to protect children from online dangers and recommended that “technology makers, policymakers, researchers and others” team up to protect children.
SURGEON GENERAL’S ADVISORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH COMES AMID ‘REAL-TIME EXPERIMENT’
The surgeon general’s comments came after he released a 25-page advisory titled “Social Media and Youth Mental Health.” The advisory outlined “current evidence” on the impacts of social media on the youth’s mental health and claimed, “we cannot conclude social media is sufficiently safe for children and adolescents.”
In response to Gowdy’s question about the role of tech companies, parents, and government in addressing these “online dangers,” Lembke said, “This is going to be a multi-stakeholder strategy to protect kids online. The onus should really fall on the tech companies to protect children.”
Lembke added, “Policymakers need to step up to begin to figure out how to regulate those companies, because in the status quo, we’ve seen that these companies cannot regulate themselves. They have prioritized getting profit over the safety, well-being and just general health of their young users.”
Gowdy asked Lembke to point out what makes these platforms, “as dangerous as the surgeon general says it is?”
UNCHECKED SOCIAL MEDIA HAS BECOME A ‘WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION’ FOR MY GENERATION: ACTIVIST WARNS TREY GOWDY
“Features like autoplay, that load a video very quickly after you’ve chosen one, features like the endless scroll, they are designed to keep you and young people hooked to maximize your attention, and what that means is, you are being robbed of your time and energy, when as a kid you should be playing and talking with people and experiencing the world, but in reality you’re stuck mindlessly scrolling, comparing yourself to others and honestly feeling disconnected,” Lembke said. “While there are many benefits of the online world, we are seeing increasing harms as the youth mental health crisis has only gotten worse.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a significant rise in feelings of sadness or hopelessness among teenagers. Between 2011 and 2021, there was an increase from 36% to 57% for teenage girls, and a jump from 21% to 29% for teenage boys.
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Lembke outlined three strategies to help the next generation of children: establishing safeguards to limit exposure to harmful content, increasing transparency of algorithmic systems, and empowering young people’s voices to help inform and build out solutions to the crisis.