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Protecting kids from social media’s harms

(NewsNation) — How young is too young for social media?

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is saying 13 years old is too young for social media accounts. Under U.S. law, sites that allow those under 13 to create accounts have to abide by stricter policies around data collection and privacy.

Research has shown social media can be harmful to kids and teens who are still developing their identities, damaging mental health and even impacting brain development.

Dr. Lisa Strohman, a clinical psychologist, joined NewsNation to discuss what parents can do to help their kids navigate a world that includes social media. She said parents need to discuss the ways these platforms are designed to manipulate users.

“We can’t, in one vein, ask our children to put a helmet on and to ride a bike or put a seatbelt on and then allow them to go onto these products that are intending to go into this vulnerable time in their developmental period,” she said.

The pressures of social media, where comments and views can vary widely between posts, can be especially damaging to kids whose brains are developing.

“If you have a child at that age, that is going on and getting a post or getting ignored on a post or they’re not getting invited into things, they really start to get a massive amount of data that they aren’t good enough,” Strohman said.

Educating kids on social media’s risks may also mean adults need to examine their own behavior and what they’re showing their kids is acceptable, she said.

“If your kids are already on, I think that you have to go through very, very intentionally and look at your own use. Are you being the model for these children?” Strohman said.