Eastern Carolina parents weigh-in on recommended social media warning labels

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) — The U.S. Surgeon General is urging Congress to mandate warning labels on social media platforms to address the mental health crisis among young people.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, in a New York Times opinion piece, argued that social media contributes significantly to this crisis and that warning labels could help mitigate its effects.

“It’s all well and good, and I think the intentions are right, but I don’t necessarily think it’s going to make that much of a difference,” said parent Matthew Bailey.

While evidence suggests warning labels can raise awareness and alter behavior, some parents remain skeptical. “Surgeon general’s warnings are on cigarettes and lots of other things too, and that doesn’t really stop anyone from using them,” Bailey added.

Other parents, like Lindsay Johnson, advocate for additional measures. “Maybe get parent groups involved and explain the risk for the mental health of young children on social media,” Johnson suggested.

According to 2022 data from the Pew Research Center, up to 95% of teens aged 13 to 17 use social media platforms. Dr. Murthy emphasized that while warning labels alone won’t make social media safe for young people, they are a crucial step in raising awareness of the dangers. “You start to become obsessed when you get on social media,” Johnson said. “You just scroll, and the next thing you know, you’re 15 minutes in, and you just wasted that time you could never get back, especially with your children.”

Dr. Murthy also recommended that schools and parents create phone-free times and that doctors guide families toward safer social media practices.