Surgeon General’s Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health


On May 23, 2023, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new advisory on the current evidence available about the impacts of social media to the mental health of children and adolescents. A new Priority Area page on Social Media from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) includes key takeaways from the advisory, the Executive Summary, and additional resources on the topic. The OSG also issued a press release to summarize the findings, which includes statements from leaders at six of the nation’s medical organizations.

The advisory states that “up to 95% of youth ages 13-17 report using a social media platform, with more than a third saying they use social media ‘almost constantly.’” It notes “the current body of evidence indicates that while social media may have benefits for some children and adolescents, 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.” [1]

“To better safeguard the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents, policymakers, technology companies, researchers, families, and young people must all engage in a proactive and multifaceted approach.”1 The recommendations included in the advisory for those audiences intend to allow for better understanding of the full impact of social media, for more resources and tools to be provided to children and families, and for harms of social media platforms to be minimized while maximizing the benefits. This can create safer, healthier online environments for children.

For more information on the national crisis of youth mental health and well-being, please see the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health from December 2021 and the associated HHS OSG Priority Area Page. Additional resources on social media’s impact on youth mental health include the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health, the American Psychological Association’s Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence, and a Tip Sheet on Social Media Use and Mental Health. 

[1] Office of the Surgeon General. Social Media and Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 2023. Accessed May 23, 2023