Frances Haugen, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Convene Roundtable on Adolescent Mental Health and Social Media
Washington, D.C. – Today, Frances Haugen joined leaders from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) in a roundtable discussion addressing the role of social media in children and teens’ mental health. The discussion comes on the heels of AAP, AACAP and the Children’s Hospital Association declaring a national emergency in children’s mental health and against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to harm children’s health in ways both seen and unseen.
Frances Haugen, who blew the whistle on Facebook’s practices of prioritizing company profits over public safety, spoke about her experiences and highlighted the need for transparency in the technology industry so that researchers can accurately study the impact of the platforms on children and teens. Leaders from AAP and AACAP shared their expertise about the role of social media in the lives of children and teens and raised concerns about the rampant spread of false information about COVID-19 on many social media platforms.
“The problems we are facing today with social media are solvable. Tech companies know how to make their platforms safer for everyone, but they won’t make the necessary changes because they prioritize their bottom line above all else — even our children’s safety and wellbeing,” said Frances Haugen. “For years, tobacco companies preyed on our children, continuing to advertise to them and addict them even after harm had been proven. The documents in my disclosures prove that Meta knows its products are harming our kids. We must not let Big Tech run the tobacco playbook on our kids. We must demand rigorous transparency requirements and safety regulations so that social media giants can no longer manipulate our kids and teens every hour of the day. We cannot let the status quo continue - our kids deserve better and we demand it.”
“Pediatricians have long been raising concerns about the impact of social media use on children’s mental health and development, and we appreciated being able to have a conversation about the opportunities and challenges presented to us by these technologies,” said AAP President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP. “It is in our power to create a digital ecosystem that works better for children and families, and we are always looking for new ways to make progress in achieving that goal. Pediatricians are also confronting unprecedented levels of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 that proliferates on social media platforms, and we will continue to do all we can to stop its spread.”
“For some time now, child and adolescent psychiatrists care for children and teenagers presenting with mental and physical ailments exacerbated by the content they are exposed to via social media,” offers Warren Y.K. Ng, MD, MPH, AACAP President. “But youth today increasingly look to social media to connect with one another and learn about the world around them. AACAP welcomes the opportunity to work with health and policy experts in creating solutions that leverage the positive aspects of social media platforms. The challenge we face is significant. Working together, we will continue to find and develop new and innovative ways to mitigate the negative mental health consequences of social media use. We hope that today’s meeting leads to positive impact and change.”