Irish Medical Organisation

IMO calls for urgent action to tackle threat of social media companies to health of young people

Call follows move by US Health Authorities to call for Warning Labels to be put on Social Media Platforms warning of the negative impact of these platforms on mental health

Tuesday 18th June 2024.  The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has called for a step change in how the Irish authorities respond to the “clear threat to the mental health of young people” coming from social media platforms.

Professor Matthew Sadlier, Chairman of the Consultant Committee of the IMO, was responding to a call from the Surgeon General of the United States for Warning Labels to be put on Social Media Platforms to warn users of the negative impact of these platforms on their mental health.

Speaking today, Professor Sadlier said; “The move by the US Surgeon General has profound significance and it reflects the absolute confidence which is now evident across the medical community internationally, that these social media platforms present a real danger to users, especially young users. Social media companies need to prove safety before launching new products and innovations rather than governments retrospectively looking for harm.

The issue of the harm caused by social media featured prominently at the most recent AGM of the IMO (April).

At that event a series of motions were passed calling for

  • A ban on smartphone use by pupils within primary schools
  • A well-funded public health strategy to combat social media addiction, use and harm (on the lines of the tobacco free policy).
  • The AG and Department of Justice to investigate the possibility of taking a legal action against Meta based on their products’ detrimental effect upon youth mental health (similar to a case being taken by 42 US Attorney Generals).

Speaking today Professor Sadlier said; “The evidence is mounting that these platforms pose a real threat to the mental health of young users.There is an urgent need now to move at pace to protect users from the dangerous, harmful and addictive practices which the owners of these platforms deploy against their users in order to boost their bottom line. Our children will only have one childhood and we need to ensure that it is a safe one. ”

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