Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - According to the Associated Press, the U.S. surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms and their effects on young people’s lives, similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes. In a Monday opinion piece in The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in the mental health crisis among young people.

I spoke locally with Peggy Schmidt, Senior Community Health Specialist with Missoula Public Health about the article more about teens and cell phone use.

Schmidt also referenced a recent article calling for a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

Local Health Official Sounds Alarm on Children and Smart Phone Usage

"Teen depression only began to skyrocket after smartphones and social media entered the scene in the early 2010s,” began Schmidt. That's in an article called, ‘Yes, it's the Phones and Social Media’. The subtitle of that article is ‘How every other explanation from lack of independence to academic pressure to the pandemic, falls short’. The article is by Jean M Twenge, dated October 18, 2023.”

Schmidt provided one anecdote about a visit to a local school.

“I went and spoke in her class and she said there's this one girl who was always in the nurse's office, and she was always sleepy and wanting to go there practically every day. The school nurse finally asked her, ‘How much time a day are you on your phone? And she said 18 hours. The nurse replied ‘No wonder you're tired all the time; you're spending 18 hours a day on your phone’.

Schmidt has Helpful Tips on Reducing Cell Phone Hours for Kids

Schmidt provided some helpful advice to parents wanting to reduce the number of hours their children spend on their phones.

“What sort of changes seem doable to the child?” she asked. “Is it reducing the amount of time, or is it reducing the number of platforms; is it using an app to track your screen time, or turning off notifications for social media; putting the phone on 'Do Not Disturb', set reminders for screen breaks, go to grayscale, or put phones away into a central location overnight where the whole family can put their phones.”

Schmidt said there is a movement among parents to ask Missoula County Public Schools to ban the use of cell phones starting next school year.


There is a Petition for MCPS to Ban Cell Phones Next School Year

“There is such a thing happening now in Missoula,” she said. “There is an initiative to get smartphones out of schools. They have a Facebook page. I was talking to a parent whose kids are currently teenagers, and she was telling me about it. It's a local initiative called Smart Phone Free Schools. It's a local movement of MCPS parents, a pretty large group of them, trying to get MCPS to remove cell phones from school.”

KGVO will be hosting new MCPS Superintendent Micah Hill on Thursday’s Talk Back show.

5 Expensive Items That Montanans Have Stopped Buying

Rising costs have forced many Montanans to cut back on everyday items. Here's what people in Montana are cutting back on the most.

Gallery Credit: jessejames

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM