Top Doc Says SM Putting Kids @ Risk!

Posted on: Wednesday, May 24th, 2023
Posted in: Unplugging | Leave a comment

Skip the Apple store and ditch the iPhones. Take your kids fishing, swimming, hiking, singing, gardening… 

Seems like this story should be older than dial phones by now. Still, when a ‘public advisory’ hit Tuesday that social media poses risks for children, we knew the quiet controversy had hit the top. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy stated that policy makers, tech companies, researchers, and parents need to “urgently take action.”

While admitting that SM can have benefits, the warning nonetheless includes that “there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” The report also cites evidence that the developing brain may undergo changes—not good ones.

The American Psychological Association also declared its first SM guidance this month. Unfortunately, the responsibility for any changes ultimately falls primarily on parents. And having experienced endless education debates in which some arguers insist that all kids’ problems should be fixed by the parents, well, know that such simplistic approaches don’t work. Parents are busy, stressed, sometimes separated, and of course too obsessed with their own phones.

Our children have become unknowing participants in a decadeslong experiment.

~ U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy

The report is disturbing. Pile this on top of virtual pandemics of youth anxiety and depression (no doubt related), and there’s much to worry about.

But what can we do? Besides worry? If you have access to children (ha), based on my parental experience (which, in some ways, never ends), here are 11 top-of-mind simple suggestions…

• Take them fishing (see photo above, snapped today)

• Play ball—any ball, balloon, or stick will do

• Read books & stuff aloud daily, anywhere and everywhere

• Cook with youth; they still love knives!

• Practice routine bedtimes

• Bed means no media. No media in the room. Period!

• Participate. Sports, music, arts, clubs, classes…

• Give back—via church, volunteering, helping others

• Resist the urge to keep up with the Jones kids and their top-tier tech toys

• Set an example…by setting your own phone down loudly and often

• Take vacations and breaks and epic BreakAways.

I hope anyone who cares makes their own list. And lives by it (is life on screens even real life?). And be tough. After all, this crisis is a dang tough—and crucial—battle for the future.

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