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Gen Z is already having a ‘mid-life crisis’ — US Surgeon General warns social media is to blame

Teens in circle holding smart mobile phones
Gen Z is approaching a "midlife crisis," according to experts after the age group plunged in Gallup's 2024 World Happiness Report.

Generation Z is still under 30 — but they may be approaching their “mid-life crisis” era.

Those born between 1997 and 2012 are already suffering what many don’t experience until middle age — and it’s all thanks to social media, according to the US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

“What’s happening in social media is the equivalent of having children in cars that have no safety features and driving on roads with no speed limits,” he told The Guardian. “No traffic lights and no rules whatsoever. And we’re telling them: ‘You know what, do your best – figure out how to manage it.’ It is insane if you think about it.”

Murthy said the data is a “red flag that young people are really struggling in the US and now increasingly around the world.” Getty Images/iStockphoto
Murthy said the data is a “red flag that young people are really struggling in the US and now increasingly around the world.” Getty Images/iStockphoto

Murthy was commenting on Gallup’s 2024 World Happiness Report released Wednesday, which found youngsters are the most unhappy group. The US also dropped in rankings to 23rd place, according to the data, marking the first time that the US didn’t fall in the top 20 happiest countries since the report launched 20 years ago.

Americans under the age of 30 rank 62nd out of 143 countries for happiness, the report found.

Murthy said the data is a “red flag that young people are really struggling in the US and now increasingly around the world.”

Regarding Gen Z, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the Wellbeing Research Center and editor of the report, said their findings showed “disconcerting drops in youth happiness, especially in North America and Western Europe” like it had “fallen off a cliff.”

“To think that in some parts of the world children are already experiencing the equivalent of a midlife crisis, demands immediate policy action,” he added.

It’s not the first time social media has been criticized as harming the youth’s wellbeing.

A review published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in September suggested that taking selfies is now considered dangerous — and they can pose a “public health problem.”