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New York City declares social media a public health hazard, Mayor urges action

In a groundbreaking move, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced on Wednesday the city’s official designation of social media as a public health hazard, citing its detrimental effects on youth mental health, Washington Post reports. “Companies like TikTok, YouTube, Facebook are fueling a mental health crisis by designing their platforms with addictive and dangerous features,” Mayor Adams emphasised during his annual State of the City address.

According to Adams, the city’s Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan has issued an advisory officially categorizing social media as a public health crisis hazard in New York City. “Just as the [U.S.] surgeon general did with tobacco and guns, we are treating social media like other public health hazards and it must stop,” Adams asserted.

Vasan’s advisory outlines the alarming state of youth mental health in New York City, offering guidance on promoting healthy social media habits among young people. Recommendations include implementing tech-free times and places, monitoring emotions during social media use, and fostering open dialogue about concerns related to mental health and social media with adults.

With up to 95 percent of U.S. teens engaging in some form of social media, concerns about its impact on mental health have surged. While these platforms serve as spaces for socializing, discussing interests, and staying updated on trends, they also contribute to addictive behaviors and exacerbate the ongoing mental health crisis among youth.


Major social media companies, including TikTok and YouTube, have responded to mounting scrutiny by introducing features to give parents more control over their children’s online activities and to limit their screen time.

However, Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy’s advisory from last year highlighted the lack of conclusive evidence regarding the safety of social media for children and adolescents. In an op-ed for The Post, Murthy stressed the urgent need to address social media’s potential role in exacerbating youth mental health challenges.

The New York City health commissioner’s advisory revealed alarming statistics, showing significant increases in rates of hopelessness and suicidal ideation among high-schoolers in the city between 2011 and 2021. Moreover, it pointed out that marginalized groups, including Black, Latino, female, and LGBTQ+ individuals, bear disproportionately high rates of experiencing hopelessness.

Ofir Turel, a professor at the University of Melbourne, praised New York City’s advisory for acknowledging the risks associated with social media without advocating for its outright elimination. Turel highlighted issues such as body image concerns, social comparison, depression, and addiction-like behaviors associated with social media usage. He advocated for a regulatory approach that promotes healthy habits through education and incentives, akin to the model used for food regulation.


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