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NYC Declares Social Media a Health Hazard

New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, acting under the authority of mayor Eric Adams, recently issued a public health advisory designating social media as an official public health hazard because of its effects on youth and young adults. Because of this New York became the first major city in the United States to make such an official designation.

Mayor Adams said, “Companies like TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook are fueling a mental health crisis by designing their platforms with addictive and dangerous features. Just as the [U.S.] surgeon general did with tobacco and guns, we are treating social media like other public health hazards and it must stop.”

In the official advisory, Vasal struck a more moderate tone, offering young people guidance on how to engage in social media while taking steps to mitigate its most harmful effects on mental health. Suggestions included having times and places designated as phone-free, monitoring emotions during use, and sharing concerns about social media use with adults.

Ofir Turel is a professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia who studies the behavioral effects of technology. Turel applauded New York for taking steps to curb the excesses of social media without resorting to a futile call for its elimination. He advocates for what he calls the “food regulation model,” which encourages healthy habits by deploying relevant information, like nutrition labels on foods. “Social media is the same,” he said. “We just need knowledge and incentives.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Because children are such a precious gift from God, we must do all we can to provide mental stability and emotional security for our young people.

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