Surgeon General Warns of Social Media Risks

Also, fighters take the war to Russia. Here’s the latest at the end of Tuesday.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, gave an extraordinary public advisory today, warning of the risks of social media use for young people. He noted that while we don’t fully understand the effects of social media, there is evidence that it can “have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

The surgeon general called on policymakers, tech companies, researchers and parents to “urgently take action” to safeguard against the potential risks.

But the research on the impact of social media use on teen mental health is inconclusive, which Murthy noted in his report. My colleague Matt Richtel, who reports on the effects of technology use on behavior and the brain, said the surgeon general’s messaging felt contradictory at points.

“He says in the report that the science is conflicting while also raising alarm bells,” Matt said.

There are still valid concerns, Matt said. The rise in social media use has coincided with declines in exercise, sleep and other activities considered vital to developing brains. At the same time, social media enables some young people to connect with others, find community and express themselves.

“We need a better framework,” Matt said. “It has been too simple to blame social media in part because it lets us deflect our own collective culpability around the massive role that screen time plays in our lives, for good and ill.”

Go deeper: Read Matt’s reporting on the link between social media and adolescent mental health.

Parents: Here’s how you can help teens navigate social media.

Soldiers with the Free Russia Legion training in the Kyiv region in February.Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

A group of Russians who have taken up arms for Ukraine, known as the Free Russia Legion, claimed responsibility for a rare assault inside Russia, near the border with Ukraine. Fighting in the area raged for a second day, with reports of explosions at a defense factory and skirmishes at a border crossing. Russian authorities said they had pushed the militants back into Ukraine, but representatives for the anti-Kremlin group said its attacks were ongoing.

Russian officials blamed Ukraine’s military for the incursion, saying the violence justifies Moscow’s broader war. Ukraine, which denied involvement in the border attacks, has cast the attackers as a sign of internal division in Russia.

In related news, a Russian judge extended the detention of the American journalist Evan Gershkovich to Aug. 30.

Shafkat Anowar/Associated Press

More than 450 credibly accused child sex abusers have ministered in the Catholic Church in Illinois over the last seven decades, according to a new report from the state’s attorney general. That is more than four times the number that the church had publicly disclosed before 2018, when the state began its investigation. The expansive report found that at least 1,997 children had been abused since 1950. However, prosecutions are unlikely because of statutes of limitations in Illinois.

Phoenix is heavily reliant on air-conditioning to keep its residents cool.Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

Climate change has helped to make heat waves worse and extreme weather more common. The number of major U.S. blackouts has more than doubled since 2015. Combined, the effects would be devastating, new research shows.

If a multiday blackout were to happen in Phoenix during a heat wave, for example, researchers found that nearly half the population would require emergency medical care for heat stroke and other illnesses and that about 12,800 people would die.

Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Broadway’s big day in the spotlight — the Tony Awards — almost didn’t happen this year. The screenwriters’ union was threatening to picket the broadcast, a key marketing moment for the fragile theater industry. Yet, somehow, the show will go on next month.

My colleague Michael Paulson dove into the behind-the-scenes story of the award show’s revival, which involved a frantic, weekend-long push from some of the world’s most famous playwrights, including Tony Kushner, Jeremy O. Harris and Lynn Nottage.

Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., a scholar of Black history, is heading up the effort.Cole Barash for The New York Times

The first entries in the Oxford Dictionary of African American English, consisting entirely of words created or reinvented by Black people, are in. The ambitious effort aims to underscore the significance of African American English and to create a resource for future research into Black speech, history and culture.

To support their etymological claims, researchers drew on song lyrics, letters, diaries, Black Twitter, slave narratives and abolitionist writings. Among the first words to be included are “bussin,” “grill” and “ring shout.”

Ryan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Maggie Ruggiero.

Cook: The secret to great salmon: Add salt and wait.

Watch: Our critic picked eight offbeat gems that you can stream now.

Read: “Time Shelter,” a satire by Georgi Gospodinov, won the International Booker Prize.

Listen: These airy, ambient songs can help you tune out the world.

Style: Our chief fashion critic offers this guide to shirt-tucking protocol.

Purge: Many of us have old electronics lying around. Here’s how to get rid of them safely.

Flourish: Dr. Peter Attia has some advice for longevity and health.

Play: Today’s Spelling Bee, Wordle and Mini Crossword. For more, find all our games here.

Nien-Ken Alec Lu

The pandemic led countless restaurants to ditch paper menus for QR codes, the scannable black and white boxes that link to online menus. In the early, don’t-touch-anything stage of the pandemic, it made sense: It reduced person-to-person contact.

But what once appeared to be the future of dining has worn out its welcome, with many restaurateurs, customers and servers saying it takes the joy out of dining.

“If they had a choice, I would say, 90 percent of customers would say: ‘I’d just rather place my order with you,” one restaurant manager said.

Have a tactile evening.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Matthew

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