Social media

virtual online communities

Social media are computer-mediated tools that allow people, companies and other organizations to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks.

Diagram depicting the many different types of social media


  • Today’s children and teens do not know a world without digital technology, but the digital world wasn’t built with children’s healthy mental development in mind. We need an approach to help children both on and offline that meets each child where they are while also working to make the digital spaces they inhabit safer and healthier. The Surgeon General’s Advisory calls for just that approach. The American Academy of Pediatrics looks forward to working with the Surgeon General and other federal leaders on Youth Mental Health and Social Media on this important work.”
  • Many of the parents I spoke to worried that their kids’ digital habits — round-the-clock responding to texts, posting to social media, obsessively following the filtered exploits of peers — were partly to blame for their children’s struggles.
  • With social media, the personal becomes the public in a way that a lot of kids don't know how to handle it. Even bullying used to be more of an isolated act. Even if it happened in the lunchroom, ten people would see it. Now a thousand people see it.
    • Guy Diamond in [ "Anxiety is Now the Most Pressing Mental Health Problem For American Teens"] by Drake Baer, Thrive Global, (October 16, 2017).
  • The American Psychological Association applauds the Surgeon General's Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health, affirming the use of psychological science to reach clear-eyed recommendations that will help keep our youth safe online. Psychological research shows that young people mature at different rates, with some more vulnerable than others to the content and features on many social media platforms. We support the advisory's recommendations and pledge to work with the Surgeon General's Office to help build the healthy digital environment that our kids need and deserve.
  • Psychologist Chris Ferguson of Stetson University says that both the negative and positive differences identified in the research are small. "My takeaway from this is for the most part, it looks like screen use, in general, and social media use have relatively little impact on most of the outcomes the authors are looking at, with maybe the exception of sleep," he says.
  • Dr. Victor Fornari, the vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry for Northwell Health, New York’s largest health system, noted that the drop in teen well-being coincided with the rise of smartphones. Although the technology’s full impact on adolescents’ mental health is still unknown, he said, there is “no question” of an association between the use of social media and the dramatic increase in suicidal behavior and depressive mood.
    Kids are now vulnerable to cyberbullying and critical comments, like ‘I hate you’, ‘Nobody likes you,’” he said. “It’s like harpoons to their heart every time.”
    More girls than boys reported being cyber-bullied, according to the C.D.C. report, which found one in five girls said they had been the target of electronic bullying, almost double the 11 percent of boys.
    Dr. Fornari added that the number of adolescents coming to the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, where he practices, for suicidal thoughts or attempts has increased dramatically in recent decades. In 1982, there were 250 emergency room visits by suicidal adolescents. By 2010, the number had increased to 3,000. By 2022, it was 8,000.
    “We don’t have enough therapists to care for all these kids,” Dr. Fornari said.
  • How lasting the impact of social media will have is yet to be determined, but one thing for sure, it has turned the chain of influence upside down. Today the reader, the lowly reader, that presumably passive consumer of all the great insight handed down by the reporter, confirmed by the analyst, attested to by the reference customer—this reader, I say, has now become the writer! Except it is not a reader/writer. It is reader/writers at large, many readers, the wisdom (or madness) of crowds. We have embarked upon the world's largest and longest cocktail party, and every issue imaginable is up for grabs.
    • Paul Gillin, ‎Geoffrey A. Moore (2009), The New Influencers: A Marketer's Guide to the New Social Media. p. vii
  • Social media can be a powerful tool for connection, but it can also lead to increased feelings of depression and anxiety – particularly among adolescents. Family physicians are often the first stop for parents and families concerned about the physical and emotional health of young people in their lives, and we confront the mental health crisis among youth every day. The American Academy of Family Physicians commends the Surgeon General for identifying this risk for America's youth and joins our colleagues across the health care community in equipping young people and their families with the resources necessary to live healthy, balanced lives.
  • Every parent’s top priority for their child is for them to be happy, healthy and safe. We have heard from families who say they need and want information about using social media and devices. This Advisory from the Surgeon General confirms that family engagement on this topic is vital and continues to be one of the core solutions to keeping children safe online and supporting their mental health and well-being.
  • The first principle of health care is to do no harm – that’s the same standard we need to start holding social media platforms to. As the Surgeon General has pointed out throughout his tenure, we all have a role to play in addressing the youth mental health crisis that we now face as a nation. We have the responsibility to ensure social media keeps young people safe. And as this Surgeon General’s Advisory makes clear, we as physicians and healers have a responsibility to be part of the effort to do so.”
  • It's unbearable to think any young person should feel there is no other option but to end their life because of bullying on social networking sites.
  • Social media makes it extraordinarily easy to join crusades, express solidarity and outrage, and shun traitors. Facebook was founded in 2004, and since 2006 it has allowed children as young as 13 to join. This means that the first wave of students who spent all their teen years using Facebook reached college in 2011, and graduated from college only this year.
    These first true “social-media natives” may be different from members of previous generations in how they go about sharing their moral judgments and supporting one another in moral campaigns and conflicts. We find much to like about these trends; young people today are engaged with one another, with news stories, and with prosocial endeavors to a greater degree than when the dominant technology was television. But social media has also fundamentally shifted the balance of power in relationships between students and faculty; the latter increasingly fear what students might do to their reputations and careers by stirring up online mobs against them.
  • The most common question parents ask me is, ‘is social media safe for my kids’. The answer is that we don't have enough evidence to say it's safe, and in fact, there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health. Children are exposed to harmful content on social media, ranging from violent and sexual content, to bullying and harassment. And for too many children, social media use is compromising their sleep and valuable in-person time with family and friends. We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis – one that we must urgently address.
  • Legislation from Congress should shield young people from online harassment, abuse and exploitation and from exposure to extreme violence and sexual content that too often appears in algorithm-driven feeds. The measures should prevent platforms from collecting sensitive data from children and should restrict the use of features like push notifications, autoplay and infinite scroll, which prey on developing brains and contribute to excessive use.
    Additionally, companies must be required to share all of their data on health effects with independent scientists and the public — currently they do not — and allow independent safety audits. While the platforms claim they are making their products safer, Americans need more than words. We need proof.
  • Late capitalism is like your love life: it looks a lot less bleak through an Instagram filter.
    • Laurie Penny, "Life Hacks of the Poor and Aimless."
  • Social media use by young people is pervasive. It can help them, and all of us, live more connected lives – if, and only if, the appropriate oversight, regulation and guardrails are applied. Now is the moment for policymakers, companies and experts to come together and ensure social media is set up safety-first, to help young users grow and thrive. The Surgeon General’s Advisory about the effects of social media on youth mental health issued today lays out a roadmap for us to do so, and it’s critical that we undertake this collective effort with care and urgency to help today’s youth.
  • With near universal social media use by America’s young people, these apps and sites introduce pro-found risk and mental health harms in ways we are only now beginning to fully understand. As physicians, we see firsthand the impact of social media, particularly during adolescence – a critical period of brain development. As we grapple with the growing, but still insufficient, research and evidence in this area, we applaud the Surgeon General for issuing this important Advisory to highlight this issue and enumerate concrete steps stakeholders can take to address concerns and protect the mental health and well being of children and adolescents. We continue to believe in the positive benefits of social media, but we also urge safeguards and additional study of the positive and negative biological, psychological, and social effects of social media.
  • Discussing political developments in the six years between leaving "The Daily Show" and starting a new show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” on Apple TV+ this fall, Stewart said social media algorithms have been a key factor in driving increased political polarization.
    “We're adjusting to a new information and political ecosystem. … The delivery system is more sophisticated, more robust and more ubiquitous," he said. "It helps radicalize in a faster way or a deeper way. We have algorithms that make sure that if you are starting to lean toward something bad … then the algorithm says, ‘I've got a four-hour manifesto you've got to see.’ We have created a machine that makes that kind of radicalization more efficient.”
Listening continuously and taking notes for an hour is an unusual cognitive experience for most young people. Professors should embrace — and even advertise — lecture courses as an exercise in mindfulness and attention building, a mental workout that counteracts the junk food of nonstop social media. ~ Molly Worthen
  • Listening continuously and taking notes for an hour is an unusual cognitive experience for most young people. Professors should embrace — and even advertise — lecture courses as an exercise in mindfulness and attention building, a mental workout that counteracts the junk food of nonstop social media.
    • Molly Worthen "Lecture me. Really." The New York Times, (October 17, 2015).

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