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According to a recent study, there is a link between excessive social media use and various psychiatric disorders. The study, published in 2023, revealed a strong correlation between social media usage with anxiety and other psychological disorders such as depression, insomnia, and stress.

With alarming stats like these unearthed in recent years, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are calls for regulations surrounding social media use in adolescents and young adults. In the U.S., the U.S. General Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murthy is pushing for a mental health warning label on social media platforms. He hopes that a social media warning label about how these platforms can damage an adolescent’s mental health will help advise and regularly remind parents of the dangers. However, Dr. Murthy requires the support and approval of Congress to implement these labels. 

Among the U.S. public, who is most likely to support and oppose this idea? Let’s have a look:

Public Reaction

The Pew Research Center estimates that up to 95% of youth aged between 13-17 use a social media platform. A shocking third state they use social media almost constantly, opening the door to mental health concerns. 

It also doesn’t help that consumer trust in teen safety on social media remains low. This is especially true considering recent lawsuits against Meta that cite the platform as targeting children and teens with features that are addictive and known to negatively impact mental health. 

Given these growing concerns, the majority of Americans lean toward supporting the Surgeon General’s warning label (57%), while only a small percentage strongly oppose the proposal (12%). 

Cast Your Vote: Do you support or oppose warning labels for social media?

Politics Play a Role

Interestingly, those who post about politics on social media ‘very’ frequently are far more likely than others to ‘strongly’ support adding warning labels to social media platforms. Democrats (63%) are more likely than Republicans (54%) to support social media platform warning labels, with Independents or Americans of other political affiliations being the most likely to feel neutral or oppose the idea (57%). 

How Social Media Users View the Impact On Their Mental Health

Based on public sentiment, it seems more individuals are for implementing social media warning labels than against it, but many remain undecided. However, what do social media users feel? Are social media sites hurting or helping their mental health? Overall, CivicScience uncovered that most social media users don’t find these platforms to help their mental health significantly. Let’s have a look at the key stats: 

  • Pinterest users are far more likely to say that the platform is beneficial to their mental health than other social media platform users. Twenty-four percent find Pinterest to help their mental health significantly, with 43% saying it helps somewhat.
  • TikTok seems to be the social platform that harms mental health the most, according to users, with 34% stating it significantly affects their mental health status. In contrast, only 14% find it to be a positive influence on their mental health. 
  • X (Twitter) also seems to do more harm than good, with 31% stating it hurts their mental health quite a bit and only 11% saying it helps a lot. 

Take Our Poll: Have you felt negative impacts on your mental health from social media use?

Warning labels on alcohol and tobacco products have been powerful tools in the past to help protect the health of U.S. citizens. So, it’s not too far-fetched to believe that using warning labels on social media can help positively protect the mental health of adolescents and youths. 

The U.S. General Surgeon is not alone in his thinking, and his proposal seems to be gaining traction, with most believing it would be beneficial – or at the very least, somewhat beneficial.