The U.S. Surgeon General says 13 years old is too young to begin using social media.
Most social media platforms including TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook allow users to create accounts if they say they are at least 13 years old.
“I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early. ... It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships, and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, told CNN.
Research has shown that teens are susceptible to cyberbullying and serious mental health impacts from social media usage and online activity during an era when the influence of the Internet has become everywhere for young people.
According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of teens age 13 and up have a smartphone, and 97% of teens say they use the Internet daily. Among 13- and 14-year-olds, 61% say they use TikTok and 51% say they use Snapchat. Older teens ages 15-17 use those social media platforms at higher rates, with 71% saying they use TikTok and 65% using Snapchat.
“If parents can band together and say you know, as a group, we’re not going to allow our kids to use social media until 16 or 17 or 18 or whatever age they choose, that’s a much more effective strategy in making sure your kids don’t get exposed to harm early,” Dr. Murthy said.
A version of this article originally appeared on WebMD.com.