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Youth Social Media

Association to Launch Center Focused on Young People and Their Social Media Use

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will use a $10 million federal grant to create a national center of excellence on social media and mental wellness, the group announced this week.

AAP says there are three goals for the center: improve the mental health of children and teens by lowering risks and leveraging benefits associated with social media use, help professionals who work with young people mitigate risks and promote healthy social media use, and spread social media use best practices through various channels. The group will receive $2 million per year over five years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) to establish the center.

“Pediatricians have been alarmed for some time by the growing mental health crisis impacting children and adolescents, and we have much to understand about the role of social media in children’s healthy development,” said AAP President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP. “This work will allow AAP to do what we do best: convene diverse experts, steep ourselves in the research, and work relentlessly, with children and adolescents at the center, until we can create a healthy digital ecosystem that supports and prioritizes their needs.”

The authors of a study published in 2019 indicated adolescents who spend more than three hours a day using social media may be at higher risk for mental health problems. In 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, issued a sweeping report on the need to protect youth mental health. Among the 11 chapters in that report, one was dedicated to how social media, video gaming, and other technology companies can help alleviate ongoing youth mental health problems.

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Internal Medicine Alert and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Reports.