Local doctors and state lawmakers weigh in on social media contributing to a mental health crisis

Many states across the country are already trying to ban some social media platforms.

Mark Sudol

May 23, 2023, 9:36 PM

Updated 334 days ago

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The U.S. Surgeon General says we're in the middle of a youth mental health crisis. Dr. Vivek Murthy voiced his concerns that social media is a contributing factor.
Many states across the country are already trying to ban some social media platforms.
If you see your kids spending a lot of time on social media, you're not alone. Some parents say they didn't even know.
Experts say the average child makes 17,000 posts to social media before the time they turn 18.
And parents say one-third of children ages 7 to 8 years old use social media apps.
"It's often an attempt at coping," said Dr. Andrew Gerber, the president and medical director at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan.
Gerber says some of the kids he sees that are using social media can't seem to turn it off since the pandemic.
"They're trying to cope with anxiety, depression, loneliness by turning to social media and rather than improving things that ends up making them do worse," said Gerber.
Gerber says social media affects kids' performance in school and their relationships.
He says it also affects their diet, exercise and sleep.
"It is increasingly out of our awareness as parents or as professionals but by educating ourselves we know what to ask," said Gerber.
Gerber says there needs to be regulations in place. State lawmakers agree. "We've seen a tremendous correlation between the launch of social media and the increase in children's anxiety over the last ten years," said State Sen. James Maroney, from Milford.
Maroney drafted a bill to protect kids online. He says over 95% of kids have access to social media sites. His bill enables privacy legislation to protect kids.
"We just don't know what's being done with that data and how it can be used to manipulate people in the future," said Maroney.
That includes banning the sale of minors' information up to the age of 18 and preventing adults from contacting a minor. Maroney's bill passed the state Senate unanimously.
It now heads to the state House of Representatives.


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