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Britt backs surgeon general on ‘youth mental health crisis’

The impact of social media apps on the mental health of young Americans continues to generate devastating insights. An advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General sheds light on the urgency to do something about it, Sen. Katie Britt said.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy characterized social media as a “decades-long experiment” on “unknowing participants” and called for immediate policy interventions to shield the country’s youth population. The report names technology companies as having a fundamental responsibility in the problem.

As millions of parents deal with those problems firsthand, medical professionals rush to understand the issue while policymakers demand it be unmasked and addressed. 

RELATED: Britt: Social media bill would protect kids

“I am grateful to see this timely and thorough report from Dr. Murthy. Clearly, there is unequivocal, bipartisan support at the highest levels of our medical community and of our federal government for ending the youth mental health crisis in our country,” Britt (R-Montgomery) said. “Thankfully, there are tangible solutions, and Congress has both the power and the duty to act with all due haste.” 

A leading idea among lawmakers is The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act – which would require rigorous age verification by social media platforms, prohibit children under 13 from using them, and restrict the use of recommendation algorithms for users under age 18 among other safety and privacy standards. 

Britt said getting that bill through Congress would be a “major step” to address the surgeon general’s recommendations. She is a cosponsor of the legislation and, as a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, is involved in the oversight of government consumer protection activities. 

We can and we must put children over the profits of social media companies,” Britt said. “I encourage my colleagues to support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation and put parents back in the driver’s seat when it comes to protecting our children.”

RELATED: ‘Serious national security risk’ posed by Beijing-based TikTok

The surgeon general’s report charges, “Extreme, inappropriate, and harmful content continues to be easily and widely accessible by children and adolescents. This can be spread through direct pushes, unwanted content exchanges, and algorithmic designs.”

In terms of scale, it says, “up to 95% of youth ages 13-17 report using a social media platform, with more than a third saying they use social media ‘almost constantly.’”

Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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