Author: Thom Holwerda
The United States surgeon general, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, issued a public advisory on Tuesday warning of the risks of social media use to young people. In a 19-page report, Dr. Murthy noted that although the effects of social media on adolescent mental health were not fully understood, and that social media can be beneficial to some users, “there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” The surgeon general called on policymakers, tech companies, researchers and parents to “urgently take action” to safeguard against the potential risks. I don’t think anyone sane really needs to be convinced of the dangers of poorly-run and terribly moderated social media like Twitter and Facebook, but I do wonder why the supposed dangers stop at the age of 18? If we look at the past 10-15 years, it seems like to me the people who most easily fall prey to misinformation and targeted troll campaigns on social media are people of older generations, who then proceeded to to incredible damage to our societies in voting booths – something that can still get a lot worse in the coming years. I have no idea how to fix any of this – social media will always exist, and so will its dark side – but we better start thinking of something, fast, because I’m afraid the damage to our society we’ve seen so far from gullible idiots falling for obvious nonsense on social media is only going to get worse from here on out.