Editorial; Toxic Social Media Culture Ready For Warning Label

For those who recall the time of the surgeon general’s warning on cigarette packs, it was a statement basically ignored, but it was there, and had an impact that would have its day. The statement went unappreciated, but eventually proved effective. Fewer people smoke cigarettes today and its impact on better health, although tough to measure, is certainly real. It was 1965, and smoking was clearly fundamentally accepted as normal. That is until a 1964 report by the surgeon general cited articles and studies linking cigarette smoking to dangerous health effects. The warning label went on cigarettes soon after and decades of measures to curb smoking followed.

Now, the surgeon general is calling for this type label on social media. One knee jerk reaction is that it won’t help, but we see the surgeon general’s warning on social media as a great start. For one, it’s a way of taming the development the apps will have going forward. It’s a disgrace that tic tok, instagram and others contain algorithms that are intentionally addictive and coerce children to stay on the site for hours at a time. It’s quite jarring that young minds are being manipulated intentionally, but that’s the business of these social networks making money. So it will take decades to fully realize the positive impact of a warning label, but it will do more for mental health for generations of people than we can imagine.

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