Social Media Might Come With A Warning Just Like A Pack of Cigs
Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that social media use by children under the age of 16 is dangerous to their health. Could we ever see a warning like this pop up when logging into Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram? Probably not, but Surgeon General Vivek Murthy thinks kids under the age of 16 shouldn't be on social media.
Murthy said the following on CNN Newsroom. “I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early … 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 relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children."
The New York Post, in a story on Murthy's comments, says younger teens exposed to social media are more prone to depression, can develop a hypersensitivity to criticism as adults, be exposed to potential cyber bullies, and are more susceptible to developing insecurities.
So is 13 really too young to be on social media? I don't know, but kids can be really cruel.
As a kid, I only had to deal with a bully on the baseball field. We scrapped once around home plate and it was over. A similar thing happened to me in high school. I got into it with a guy on the basketball court and by the time the coach had us separated and made us go to his office we were laughing about the whole thing. Today, imagine being bullied at school, then coming home to find that same bully all over your social media profile, or worse, talking smack about you all over Facebook or Tiktok.
Someone recently described social media as the highlight reel of our lives. I don't remember where I read that, or I'd give them credit. It's the part of us we want to show off to others. It's the part of our lives that makes us feel good, present ourselves in the best light, or convey the image we want to project to others, not who we really are.
Don't tell me you don't consider the image you put out there either. I'd be willing to bet if you're "completely unfiltered" on social media, that's very much a choice in how you want to present yourself. Unfiltered is part of your image, your identity.
Remember when you first got on Facebook? Or Instagram? Or Twitter? For me it was Facebook. I was 33 years old. I learned about it from some friends at a reunion of college radio buddies. For the first couple of years when everyone was signing up Facebook was like crack.
Who was the latest friend to sign up? Who sent me a friend request? Why didn't this person respond to my friend request? I wrote this person a note, why didn't they respond? Or I wrote this person a long letter, why did they write me three sentences about the last 15 years of their life? It was a roller coaster emotionally, and I couldn't put it down for a while because I wanted the validation of a new friend, or a bunch of likes, or comments, on whatever I was talking about.
Imagine having to navigate this at 13 or 14 years old. All of that's a lot to go through while at the same time dealing with crazy hormones, body changes, testing boundaries, an interest in the opposite sex, peer pressure, and everything else that younger teenagers are dealing with.
These days I think I have a fairly healthy personal relationship with social media. I enjoy keeping up with friends. I enjoy sharing my record collection. I enjoy being part of groups and pages that are related to my interests. I enjoy sharing the parts of my life I'm fine sharing, and I keep the rest private.
Try doing that at 13 years old. Perhaps putting a warning on social media like a pack of cigarettes isn't a bad idea.