“13 is too early” to Be on Social Media, Says U.S. Surgeon General

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“I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early [to be on social media] … It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” says U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Muthy continues, “If parents can band together and say you know, as a group, we’re not going to allow our kids to use social media until 16 or 17 or 18 or whatever age they choose, that’s a much more effective strategy in making sure your kids don’t get exposed to harm early… None of this is out of our control. When we had dangerous vehicles on the road, we passed laws to make those vehicles less dangerous. We should make decisions to make [social media] a healthier experience that would make kids feel better about themselves and less alone.”

The debate over whether social media harms children and teens has raged virtually since the platforms’ inceptions, with little consensus on the matter.

Social media platforms that allow 13-year-olds to join include Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and Twitter.

Discussion Questions

1. Is 13 too young to be on social media? Explain your answer(s).

2. How should social media platforms protect their youngest users? Explain your answer(s).

3. How should government regulate social media to protect kids and teens? Explain your answer(s).


Allison Gordon and Pamela Brown, “Surgeon General Says 13 Is ‘Too Early’ to Join Social Media,” cnn.com, Jan. 29, 2023