Social media’s effects on children are not yet clear

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In their May 12 op-ed, “We must protect kids online,” Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Katie Boyd Britt (R-Ala.) wrote that “toxic content” on social media makes kids “more depressed, anxious and upset,” and used that to justify their new bill restricting access and advertising to children online.

But a new report from the American Psychological Association found that social media use is “not inherently beneficial or harmful to young people,” as reported in the May 15 Capital Business article “Officials say social media hurts teens. But scientists say it’s complicated.” The article noted that the report found “studies showing direct harm are still somewhat rare” and that “ ‘youths’ psychological development may benefit’ from social interaction online, especially for ‘those experiencing mental health crises, or members of marginalized groups.’ ”

Kids in distress need their parents, not politicians, to stay in control of where they find comfort, help and support. At the very least, the jury seems to still be out on the harms and benefits to kids on social media.

Read the full letter at The Washington Post.