The Surgeon General says 13 is too young for social media; experts in the Ozarks agree

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:44 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Surgeon General says 13 is still too young for kids to be on social media, and those at Cox and Burrell who specialize in child mental health agree.

“We’ve had a decrease in self-esteem, decrease in the ability to form relationships, decrease inappropriate body image, decrease in a lot of different aspects that we wouldn’t have seen 25 years ago when I started in Child Life,” said Cox Child Life coordinator Rana Post

Science shows that your brain hasn’t fully developed until 24 years old, and social media isn’t helping that growth.

“Somebody that is as young as nine, ten, eleven, even 15 doesn’t have the ability to make good decisions about online behavior,” said Cristin Martinez with Burrell’s school-based services. “It could have some pretty damaging effects.”

She added that those effects could turn into an addiction

“It is addictive. It literally is addictive,” said Martinez. “50% of teenagers would say they are addicted to their phones. Another thing that’s concerning is that kids will wake up, up to eight times per night, to check their social media status because each comment, each life that they’re getting, is giving them that hit of dopamine.”

It’s nearly impossible for anyone to live entirely disconnected from the internet. Post says parents need to talk with their kids about the dangers of social media.

“Monitor what content they’re absorbing,” said Post. “Whether that’s just checking in and looking over their shoulder or talking about what kinds of sites that they’re looking at. I think the more that parents can be engaged in what their kids are consuming helps decrease the negative impact of it.”

Rana added that you should wait until your kids have just a little more life experience.

“I think the milestone that I think of is getting their license,” said Post. “So at 16, they have to make some more independent decisions, they have to be able to find where they’re going to go to appointments, and in those types of things, and I think that may be a better age than 13.”

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