The Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy, asked governments to create rules for the use of social media, as a study shows it causes social isolation. During several visits to different university campuses in the United States, Dr. Murthy noticed aisles were silent. This was because students were connected to their phones, computers, or headphones without communicating with each other. He wondered where the conversations and laughter that are supposed to be heard in university aisles had gone, and how these students were going to start a conversation. “It is no longer part of the culture to talk to each other,” he said.

For the first time, studies indicate that adults are happier than young people in the United States. Similar situations are happening in other countries because personal relationships that existed in schools, universities, sports teams or religious groups, have been replaced by screen time.

Dr. Murthy’s concern is that this social isolation also has physical impacts, increasing the risk of heart disease by 29%, the risk of stroke by 32%, and the risk of dementia by 50% among older people, as he has stated. He points out that social media poses a risk to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. There is no evidence to know if social media is safe, and there are no usage rules. Dr. Murthy has said that in the last 20 years, children spend 70% less time with their friends. Adolescents spend an average of nearly 5 hours a day on social media, even staying up late into the night, even on school nights, scrolling through social media on their phones.

Dr. Murthy thinks that social media companies should reduce or remove features that could become addictive, harm self-confidence, and distract from other activities. He says that governments have been slow to make rules, so he wants them to check their policies for social media use to help fight social isolation and loneliness.