Dr. Vivek Murthy did so in an advisory collected by The Associated Press, where he points out that companies and lawmakers need to take “immediate action” to protect their mental health.
Murthy admitted that teens and kids “don’t have the luxury of waiting years” for those policies, so he issued eight tips to safely use social media, four for teens and four for parents.
Suppose your mental health is being affected by social media. In that case, reaching out to a trusted friend or adult for help is essential. Do the same for others.
The attorney general says that limiting electronic devices, like phones or tablets, for at least one hour before bedtime is crucial to get enough sleep.
He also recommended making room for fundamental daily interactions as a priority. Keep the phone away while hanging out with friends and having real-life conversations or meals.
Personal information is valuable. It is essential to pay attention to what you post on social media and to whom. If you are not 100% sure, better not to post that.
Don’t be afraid to call out when you are the victim of cyberbullying or harassment. Tell a friend, teacher, counselor, or trusted adult so you can get the help and support you need and deserve.
Murthy also recommended visiting stopbullying.gov for tips on how to report cyberbullying. If you are experiencing online harassment from a dating partner, he advised visiting loveisrespect.org and takeitdown.ncmec.org to help remove private images.
A family media plan means everybody can have agreed-upon expectations about technology. According to Murthy, that will help establish healthy boundaries.
He also claims that a plan can help open discussion about social media use, balancing online time, content boundaries, and the importance of privacy for their safety.
Create moments and spaces where devices are restricted, especially at least one hour before bedtime or at meal times. In-person interaction and gatherings help children develop social skills.
Make sure those rules apply to everyone─including parents. Murthy said parents can set an example of using the internet and social media correctly.
Murthy recommends being mindful of social media habits, including when and how to share content about a child and modeling positive behavior on your social media accounts.
Finally, the US Surgeon General recommends teaching children about technology and empowering them to be responsible internet users when they reach the appropriate age.
Ask children who they connect with, their privacy settings, and online experiences. Discuss the benefits and risks of social media and the importance of privacy.