Generation Z is facing an early ‘midlife crisis’ due to social media, the US Surgeon General warns

Gen Z is facing an early ‘midlife crisis’, partly caused by their constant exposure to social media, America’s top doctor has warned.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, commented on a global well-being survey showing that 15- to 24-year-olds are increasingly less happy than older generations.

Allowing children to use social media was akin to giving them drugs that had not been proven to be safe, he said, and governments’ failure to regulate this was “insane.”

This year’s World Happiness Report, an annual barometer of well-being in 140 countries, has shown for more than a decade that younger people are happier than their elders.

Young people are facing an early ‘midlife crisis’ caused in part by their constant exposure to social media, top US doctor has warned

But in 2017, this changed in the US – and by 2024, declining well-being among people in their thirties will have pushed the US out of the top 20 happiest countries.

While this is not yet the case in Western Europe, the gap has narrowed and the same ‘historical shift’ is expected to take place over the next two years.

It was once a widely accepted idea that “children start out happier before sliding down the U-curve into a midlife crisis before it picks up again,” says Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, editor of the report.

“To consider that children in some parts of the world are already experiencing the equivalent of a midlife crisis requires immediate policy action.”

The report doesn’t say what’s driving this change, but Dr. Murthy does partially blame the enormous amount of time teens spend on social media.

He cited research showing that American teens spent an average of nearly five hours a day on social media and a third stayed on devices until midnight on weekday evenings.

Speak with The guardhe said he was still waiting for data to prove social media giants’ claims that their platforms were safe for children and teens.

He called for urgent legislation to reduce the harm to young people from social media, including limiting or eliminating features such as like buttons and infinite scrolling.

Britons under 30 were 32nd in the rankings, behind countries such as Moldova, Kosovo and even El Salvador, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

By comparison, British over-60s have entered the top twenty of the happiest older generations in the world.