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WATCH: NYC Mayor Designates Social Media a 'Public Health Hazard,' Compares it to Alcohol and Tobacco

'All New Yorkers should advocate to hold social media companies accountable'

WATCH: NYC Mayor Designates Social Media a 'Public Health Hazard,' Compares it to Alcohol and Tobacco

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has designated social media to be a "public health hazard" comparable to alcohol or tobacco.

Adams announced the designation during his State of the City address on Wednesday.

On the day of the address, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan issued a Health Commissioner’s Advisory "identifying unfettered access to and use of social media as a public health hazard, just as past U.S. surgeons general have done with tobacco and firearms," Adams explained.

Adams called out several companies by name, saying that we "need to protect our students from harm online, including the growing dangers presented by social media. Companies like TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook are fueling a mental health crisis by designing their platforms with addictive and dangerous features. We cannot stand by and let Big Tech monetize our children’s privacy and jeopardize their mental health."

"We are the first major American city to take this step and call out the danger of social media like this," Adams said. "Just as the surgeon general did with tobacco and guns, we are treating social media like other public health hazards and ensuring that tech companies take responsibility for their products. You’ll be hearing more about this soon."

The advisory asserts that youth mental health in NYC has been declining for over a decade.

"Rates of NYC high schoolers experiencing hopelessness increased by over 42% between 2011 and 2021, and rates of suicidal ideation increased by more than 34%," the advisory states. "According to the most recent data in 2021, 38% of NYC high schoolers felt so sad or hopeless during the past year that they stopped engaging in their usual activities. Young people who identify as Black, Latino, female or LGBTQ+ bear disproportionately high rates of experiencing hopelessness."

The advisory asked that adults who interact with children and youth "take opportunities to promote use of social media in a manner that is protective of youth mental health."

It suggested implementing tech-free times and places "in relevant settings that encourage in-person connection," discussing social media use in an open-minded way with children, "providing support when they identify concerns," and "modeling healthy social media use, including sharing use practices and how to be thoughtful with use."

Additionally, the advisory said that "Federal and state policymakers should consider building on existing legislative proposals to further protect children and youth from predatory practices by social media companies," and "all New Yorkers should advocate to hold social media companies accountable and advance reform that protects youth from harmful and predatory practices."

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