Surgeon Gen Vivek Murthy.Susan Walsh AP

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the top public health official in the nation, issued a warning Tuesday to parents and social media companies to “take immediate action” to safeguard the mental health of children and adolescents. He wants families to turn off their devices for an hour before bedtime, then on through the night, to encourage live, unstructured conversation. Meal times should be device-free as well, he wrote. Teens need to confide in a trusted adult if they’re being bullied, and visit a government website,, for tips; in a dating situation, contact an expert at Love Is Respect for support. Be careful about publishing personal information which can be used by stalkers. And parents should model responsible social media behavior and avoid over-sharing. What remains to be seen is what impact Murthy’s prescriptions might have; past Surgeons General issued reports on smoking and AIDS that carried a lot of weight, but the office’s credibility was destroyed during the Covid-19 pandemic under the previous president, and earnest Dr. Murthy seems to think families still sit down to eat dinner together every night. As current Twitter and TikTok controversies indicate, social media are a societal danger, and not just to kids. (Susan Walsh/AP)

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