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Urgent Guidance from Surgeon General Urges Policymakers, Social Media Companies, Parents, and Researchers to Prioritize Safety and Implement Age-Appropriate Standards to Safeguard Children Online

In a comprehensive set of recommendations, the surgeon general addressed policymakers, researchers, social media companies, parents, and children, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing safety. The report called for the implementation of age-appropriate health and safety standards to protect children in the digital realm.

The report stated, “Such standards may include designing technology that is appropriate and safe for a child’s developmental stage; protecting children and adolescents from accessing harmful content, such as content that promotes eating disorders, violence, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and suicide or discusses suicide methods.”

Additionally, the report urged the limitation of features that aim to maximize users’ time, attention, and engagement. It emphasized the need for creating tools that safeguard activities crucial for healthy development, such as ensuring adequate sleep.

For parents, Surgeon General Murthy proposed the creation of a family plan to establish boundaries for social media usage. He emphasized the importance of designating tech-free zones to foster face-to-face interactions. Furthermore, he highlighted the role of adults in setting a positive example.

The advisory stated, “Parents can set a good example of what responsible and healthy social media use looks like by limiting their own usage, being mindful of their social media habits, including when and how they share information or content about their child, and modeling positive behavior on their social media accounts.”

These recommendations aim to guide stakeholders in adopting a safety-conscious approach, protecting consumers from potential harms while promoting healthy online engagement for children and adolescents.