Central Florida therapist agrees with social media warnings

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The U.S. surgeon general says Congress should require warning labels on social media apps, similar to what you see on cigarette boxes and alcohol.

Dr. Vivek Murthy says social media has contributed to the mental health crisis among young people and several studies confirm the effects of it.

This comes as Florida’s lawmakers have already moved to ban most minors from social media platforms.

Starting next year, Floridians 13 and under will be barred from using social media sites and 14- and 15-year-old kids will only be able to log on if they get parental permission.

A therapist says these warning labels would provide public awareness on the negative effects of social media.

Cherlette McCullough, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said one of the main reasons behind warning labels is to break through bad habits.

“And compulsion around things that are detrimental to our mental health,” said McCullough.

She says some studies have shown the negative effects of social media in teens and that public awareness can help mitigate the issues she’s seen herself.

“About comparison, some bullying, also when it comes to personality: some people are feeling like they can’t be themselves, especially when it comes to teens because social media has set the standard of what they should sound like, what they should look like,” said McCullough.

“Warning: too much usage of this could cause depression, can cause anxiety, so just as a warning,” she pointed out.

A mother of three Orange County Public Schools students also agrees with the surgeon general’s thinking.

“We can’t assume that every single human being that’s a parent on this planet knows that social media can negatively impact them,” said Victoria Dume.

At Dume’s household, two of her daughters, one 15 and one almost 13, use TikTok and Instagram.

Her 10 year old does not have social media, she says she’s too young for it.

“With the teenage brain and the teenage mind, they’re also very curious, they want to explore and learn things on their own. Can we influence some aspect of it? Yes, I think the conversations are needed and the warnings should be there,” she said.

Dume says as far as Florida’s new social media law, while the ability to restrict what they can see should be available, she still feels hesitant.

“I think that it really should be up to the parent what their children can have access to or not,” she said. “I think there’s a very thin line here of how much we’re giving control to the government on what they saw we can and cannot do to our children.”

The surgeon general’s warning label would require congressional action.

Murthy says evidence from tobacco studies shows that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior.