Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced backlash on Wednesday after stating that there is no link between social media use and the impact it has on teens' mental health.
The Big Tech mogul cited a report to back up his claims but failed to cite further evidence from the same report which suggested that adolescents who use social media do have an increase in mental health issues due to factors related to its use.
The testimony came during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on efforts to stop sexual abuse content on social media. Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah was quick to fight back against Zuckerberg's assertations.
"With so much of our lives spent on mobile devices and social media, it's important to look into the effects on teen mental health and well-being. I take this very seriously," said Zuckerberg.
"Mental health is a complex issue, and the existing body of scientific work has not shown a causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health outcomes," he added.
During Sen. Mike Lee’s questioning, he fired back at the Meta CEO about sexually explicit material being available to minors on platforms such as Instagram during the hearing.
"At today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with social media CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg just cited a report saying that research doesn’t prove that social media causes changes in kids’ mental health," Lee further argued on X.
"The point didn’t sit well with today’s unusually large audience, which includes many parents and activists. The same report contained the following observation:
"Research suggests the harms of social media use can include encouraging young people to engage in unhealthy social comparisons and displacing time that could be given to sleep, exercise, studying, or other activities. Social media’s distracting power can work against an adolescent’s ability to sustain attention, a skill necessary for academic success and emotional adjustment. Some young people can also develop a dysfunctional need to use online games, which is related to anxiety and depression. It is possible that dysfunctional social media use may pose a similar problem," wrote Lee, citing the report.
In addition to Zuckerberg, the CEOs from other social media giants such as TikTok and X, formerly known as Twitter, testified during the congressional hearing on the same issues. Congressional leaders made it clear that their companies need to do more to protect children from online predators and other harms associated with social media platforms such as child exploitation.
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