Back in February2021, News Wise reported that, “As teens’ use of social media has grown over the past decade, so too has the suicide rate among younger people.” Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34. Many have suggested that social media is driving the increased suicide risk, but because it’s still relatively new, it’s been difficult to determine its long-term effects on mental health.
Still, Brigham Young University research—the longest such study so far on social media use and suicidality–found that, although, it had little suicidal effect on boys, not so girls. That was especially true for girls who, when 13, used such apps at least two or three hours a day and even more over time; they were “at higher clinical risk for suicide as emerging adults.”
- Instagram: According to Facebook, which owns the app, “Instagram’s effects don’t hurt everyone and that, for most teens, the negative social comparisons are manageable and don’t compare to the app’s utility as a fun way for users to express themselves and connect with friends.” FB did, however, acknowledge that it’s toxic for teen girls.In fact, according to research done by The Wall Street Journal, “Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram.”
Still, up until recently, Facebook was planning to unveil “Instagram Kids” for 10- to 12-year-olds. Only after heated pushback and the WSJ’s findings did it hit the pause button on the app. Paused, not cancelled.
And now throw in this:
- OnlyFans: Sean Clifford, founder of the Canopy app that protects kids from online pornography says, “The sad truth is that more kids in America today will see hardcore porn… before they have their first kiss. OnlyFans is not Playboy… It is darker, it’s more graphic, it’s more addictive, it’s more bingeable… It’s harming and shaping our kids in much more problematic ways.”
- TikTok: The app’s “Devious Licks” challenge encourages kids to steal and/or damage property and then anonymously post videos of the mayhem they’ve caused. Schools report everything from broken mirrors and toilets to soap sprayed all over floors and walls, even sinks pulled from walls.Says North Carolina’s Wakefield Middle School Principal Jason Herman, “They see this as a joke, I do not. Our custodians work too hard every single day to put up with this nonsense.”
- TikTok: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the app “needs only one important piece of information to figure out what a user wants.” For their study, the WSJ researchers used dozens of automated bots to register as users, 13 to 15. The result: TikTok “provided these accounts with videos that depicted and promoted rape, drugs, and sexual fantasies. Others encouraged eating disorders and glorified alcohol.” The app boasts 100 million users.
No wonder USA Today Opinion Fellow Theresa Olohan titled her September 27 op-ed piece, “I Grew up Without Social Media Until 17: I Didn’t Know at the Time What a Blessing It Was.” She goes on to cite:
- Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, limited his children’s tech use and did not allow them to usean iPad.
- Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, wouldn’t let his kids have phones until they were 14.
- Chamath Palihapitiya, a former FB executive, says he feels “tremendous guilt” for helping create and promote FB’s success.
- Kevin Systrom, Instagram co-founder, feared that his daughter would grow up with the harassment and bullying on his own platform.
Bottom line: Parents, beware… ~ Carol