Jan 24, 2024 - Health

NYC first to designate social media as environmental toxin

Mayor Eric Adams on Nov. 21, 2023. Photo: Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images

New York City declared Wednesday that it's the first city to issue an advisory officially designating social media as an environmental toxin.

Driving the news: In response to the danger social media poses to the mental health of young people, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued an advisory identifying unrestricted access to and use of social media as a public health hazard.

  • The department urged parents and caregivers to delay giving children access to a smartphone or social media until at least age 14.
  • They also urged federal and state policymakers to expand on legislative proposals that protect youth from "predatory practices by social media companies."

The big picture: Social media companies are increasingly being blamed for historically high rates of depression, suicidality and other mental health issues in youth, Axios's Tina Reed reports.

  • States and local governments, as a result, are increasingly pursuing legislation and legal action.

What they're saying: "We won't let Big Tech endanger our kids," NYC Mayor Eric Adams said in his State of the City speech Wednesday.

  • The advisory urged all New Yorkers to "advocate to hold social media companies accountable and advance reform that protects youth from harmful and predatory practices."

Go deeper: Pew: Many teens use social media "almost constantly"

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