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Nationwide call to action: Arkansas Governor Sanders pushes for screen time reduction among youth

Arkansas – In a move aimed at addressing the mental health crisis affecting America’s youth, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas has taken a proactive step by distributing copies of Jonathan Haidt’s book, “The Anxious Generation,” to governors across all U.S. states and territories. This initiative comes with a heartfelt appeal in a letter, urging her counterparts to join her in combating the adverse effects of social media and excessive screen time among children and teenagers.

A Nationwide Call to Action

Governor Sanders’ letter sheds light on the daunting challenges faced by the nation’s youth, emphasizing the alarming increase in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicide, which have escalated with the rise of digital technology. Citing disturbing statistics, Sanders notes, “The average American teen now spends nearly 5 hours a day on social media,” a habit strongly linked to various mental health problems. She points out the correlation between excessive social media use and an increased risk of mental health issues, including a significant impact on young teens’ self-esteem regarding body image.

The letter highlights the troubling trend that has seen suicide rates triple among young teens and a sharp rise in self-harm and depression, coinciding with the widespread adoption of smartphones and social media. Governor Sanders criticizes Big Tech companies for exploiting adolescent vulnerabilities, leading to what she describes as a public health crisis that devastates young lives and erodes academic performance across core subjects like math, reading, and science.

Legislative Efforts and Recommendations

In response to this crisis, Governor Sanders applauds the efforts of several states that have enacted bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting young internet users. She proudly references Arkansas’s Social Media Safety Act, which mandates parental consent for minors wishing to create new social media accounts. Despite resistance from Big Tech-backed groups, such legislative actions represent crucial steps towards safeguarding children online.

Check also: Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders named “Governor of the Year”

Governor Sanders outlines key recommendations from “The Anxious Generation,” advocating for significant policy changes, including banning smartphones in schools and delaying the age at which children can access social media. Her proposed measures include:

  1. Banning smartphones for children below high school age.
  2. Prohibiting social media use for children under 16.
  3. Implementing phone-free policies in schools.
  4. Encouraging outdoor play and greater independence during childhood.

These guidelines aim to reverse the negative impacts of digital immersion by fostering a healthier, more active, and socially interactive environment for the younger generation.

A Collective Effort for Change

Concluding her letter, Governor Sanders calls for a united effort among governors to implement these changes, underscoring the urgency of rescuing millions of American children from the clutches of social media and screen addiction. Her initiative highlights a critical moment for leadership and collaboration at the highest levels of state governance to secure a better, healthier future for all children across the nation.

As the debate continues and more states contemplate similar actions, the collective response to Governor Sanders’ call could very well shape the future of youth mental health policy in America.

The letter can be viewed here.

Ava Thompson

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