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Kids and social media: How concerned should parents be?

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned in a new advisory Tuesday that widespread social media use among kids and teens poses a significant mental health risk.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —

After the U.S. Surgeon General's warning about social media and its impact on kids and teens' mental health, how parents can protect their children from some of the negative health impacts is top of mind. 

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new report - outlining negative health impacts online for teenagers and how parents can get involved to limit those impacts. 

The surgeon general has said he believes 13 is too young for children to be on social media platforms. Although sites allow children of that age to join, kids are still “developing their identity.” 

“What can our families; our youth, and families do to monitor the process better?” Adrian James with Youth Villages said. “What can we do to educate our youth more?” 

According to a report, 95% of teens use social media being exposed to content deemed “harmful and extreme," and teens use these popular platforms on average 3.5 hours a day. 

It's a cycle parent Twyla Jones said she’s worked to break with her child.  

“It can be a distraction,” Jones said. “Today, you know, children don’t go out and play. They don’t exercise. They sit inside and they're on social media; on their phones and tablets.”  

Jones’ daughter Atallah said she’s seen its impact firsthand. 

“Since my generation is just mainly focused on social media,” Atallah said. “I feel like it could like negatively affect you.” 

According to the surgeon general’s advisory teens younger than 15 who spent more than three hours on social media daily had double the risk of developing symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

James said it's cause enough for children and their parents to put up intentional guard rails.

“What boundaries can we create when it comes to social media?” James asked. 

Some of those boundaries recommended include limiting the use of phones, tablets, and computers for at least one hour before bedtime, keeping mealtimes and in-person gatherings device‑free, and trying to connect with people in person as often as possible.  

A message Atallah echoes.  

“It’s okay to take a break sometimes, you know,” Jones said. “Just go outside and just get off the phone once in a while.”  

For more tips for parents and teens on social media use, check HERE.

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