Major psychology group says infinite scrolling, other social media features are ‘particularly risky’ to youth mental health

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A top psychology group is urging technology companies and legislators to take greater steps to protect adolescents’ mental health, arguing that social media platforms are built for adults and are “not inherently suitable for youth.”

Social media features such as endless scrolling and push notifications are “particularly risky” to young people, whose developing brains are less able to disengage from addictive experiences and are more sensitive to distractions, the American Psychological Association wrote in a report released Tuesday.

But age restrictions on social media platforms alone don’t fully address the dangers, especially since many kids easily find workarounds to such limits. Instead, social media companies need to make fundamental design changes, the group said in its report.

“The platforms seem to be designed to keep kids engaged for as long as possible, to keep them on there. And kids are just not able to resist those impulses as effectively as adults,” APA chief science officer Mitch Prinstein said in a phone interview. He added that more than half of teens report at least one symptom of clinical dependency on social media.