“13 is Too Young for Kids to be on Social Media” – US Surgeon General. Do you agree?
I think we can all agree that social media isn’t usually the best use of our time, and I’m ever-grateful that it wasn’t around when I was going through my teen years. I’m sure I would have said some silly things on there, but at what age are we able to start making decisions about what we see and who we follow?
The US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he believes 13 is too young for children to be on social media platforms because although sites allow children of that age to join, kids are still “developing their identity.”
It’s not just the content posted and viewed by children and young adults, it’s the addictive nature that keeps them scrolling. Apps like TikTok are carefully designed specifically to keep the users on there as long as possible, seeing ads and videos that have been aggregated to entertain and distract.
Meta, Twitter, and other social media giants allow 13-year-olds to join their platforms. One of the easiest ways to drive viewing time and engagement is to provide content that has similar views already expressed, watched, or liked by the user, creating an echo chamber of potentially harmful opinions.
“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,”US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on “CNN Newsroom.”
New research suggests habitually checking social media can actually alter the brain chemistry of 12-13-year-olds.
According to a study published this month in JAMA Pediatrics, students who checked social media regularly displayed greater neural sensitivity in certain parts of their brains, making their brains more sensitive to social consequences over time.
Psychiatrists like Dr. Adriana Stacey have pointed to this phenomenon for years. Stacey, who works primarily with teenagers and college students, previously told CNN using social media releases a “dopamine dump” in the brain.
“When we do things that are addictive like use cocaine or use smartphones, our brains release a lot of dopamine at once. It tells our brains to keep using that,” she said. “For teenagers in particular, this part of their brain is actually hyperactive compared to adults. They can’t get motivated to do anything else.”Dr. Adriana Stacey
Recent studies also demonstrated that in young children, for example, excessive screen time was significantly associated with poorer emerging literacy skills and the ability to use expressive language.
Many kids are getting their first phone when they turn 11-12 and can use them to text their friends, but the app and social media use often goes unmonitored. Although I’ve written a few times about Social Media Safety, platforms like YouTube, YouTube Kids, Twitch, and Snapchat often get overlooked and used as a distraction. I give my daughter my phone to watch something on YouTube Kids all the time, especially when we’re in a restaurant and she’s asking again where the food is. Should this be monitored too?
What do you think? Is 13 too young for social media? Have your say in the comments below.