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Who wants social media to come with a public health warning label?

Answer: The U.S. surgeon general.

Social media apps on a smartphone screen.
Shutterstock/Cristian Dina
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy wants social media apps to come with warning labels, much like cigarettes and alcohol do. “The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency — and social media has emerged as an important contributor,” he wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday.

Murthy believes that social media users should be universally warned of the potential for negative mental health effects while using such apps. Among his arguments, he cited a study by the American Medical Association in 2019 that found that teens who spend three hours a day on social media double their risk of depression.

Murthy doesn’t have the authority to institute a surgeon general’s warning label all on his own — Congress must first pass legislation requiring it, which he is now calling for. “Until that point in time, when we have reliable evidence that tells us social media is safe and changes are being made and will be made in the future … parents deserve to be warned. That’s where the label comes in,” Murthy told CNN.