They did it on purpose right from Facebook’s start back in 2004, designing algorithms that would keep kids repeatedly coming back for more, addicting them to social media:
- 35% of U.S. teens report “almost constant” use of social media platforms
- 42% of U.S. teens admit that social media keeps them from connecting in person with friends.
- 51% of U.S. teens report spending at least 4 hours a day on social media up to 6 hours.
Just give a listen to this from former Facebook president Sean Parker: “The thought process is all about, ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ And that means dopamine (the feel-good hormone), and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s likely to get you more likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop… You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Explaining that “The inventors, creators like Zuckerberg… understood this consciously. And we did it anyway,” he adds, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
“The biggest offender,” says Common Sense Media founder Jim Steyer, “is Zuckerberg’s Meta (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, & WhatsApp) when it comes to ignoring evidence of its platforms’ impact on youth mental health.”
(Meta: an acronym for: Most Effective Tactics Available)
Meanwhile, 97% of teens use their phones at some point during the school day, getting a median of 273 notifications daily–25% of them at school.
(Median: the mid-point in a range from lowest to highest)
Indeed, finds Common Sense Media: Most teens use their cellphones 43 minutes during the school day–almost a full class period!
We shouldn’t be surprised.
Even back n 2015, a London School of Economics study found that “banning phones in schools added 6% to test scores and the equivalent of an extra hour of learning weekly.”
Its conclusion: “Generation Z were the guinea pigs who proved that allowing phones in schools hurt lesson-learning, friend-making, and memory-forming. Now it’s time to ensure that Generation Alpha doesn’t meet the same fate.”
Now finally, our belated response:
- 33 states have sued Meta, asserting that, “Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens. Its motive is profit… It has concealed the ways in which these platforms exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable consumers: teenagers and children.”
- 8 states & D.C. have filed suits of their own for similar reasons.
But it’s England’s Education Secretary Gillian Keegan who has taken the bull by the horns, so to speak, recommending that schools prohibit kids from using their cellphones at all during the school day.
Question is: Will the U.S. now follow England’s lead and ban on cell phones in our nation’s schools?
The answer: Probably not, because…
- Each of our 50 states has its own education policies, making it unlikely the feds will step in.
- Parents oppose it, believing, for safety’s sake, they need to be able to reach their kids 24/7.
- Teachers don’t want to police cellphone use, enforcing school/district cellphone ban mandates.
But, notes Education Week’s Lauraine Langreo, some states have moved forward with bans of their own.
Among the results:
** More student engagement
** Less apathy
** Less distracted students.
** Reduced stress and anxiety.
** Fewer discipline problems
** Fewer violent behaviors
** Less bullying
Says Bill Wilson, superintendent of Colorado’s Brush School District: “In between classes, they’re now talking with each other instead of everybody walking with their heads down on their phones.”
Nevertheless, last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission tweaked the E-Rate program which helps schools and libraries buy affordable broadband. Now, however, it will, in a 3 to 2 vote, also cover adding Wi-Fi to school buses starting next year.
As chairwoman and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel says, “Call it Wi-Fi on wheels.”
Boasts Keith Kruger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking: “From our perspective and the vast majority of educators, they see great value in recapturing time that students are commuting to school.”
Plus, he says it improves student behavior on buses…
And so, we keep wrapping our kids up in screens at home, in school, and now the school bus, too, at the expense of noisy childhood.
All in favor?
~ With thanks, Carol