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The Negative Impact Social Media Has on Children

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2023
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by Tammy Bruce
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39 Comments

Recently, National Teenager Day was recognized and while we did have news stories about educational successes, the bright future of our children, and their athletic accomplishments, what was overwhelming was the coverage of increasing mental health issues faced by American teenagers.

Many of my friends immediately associated the disturbing trend with the impact of disastrous measures mandated by politicians in response to COVID. That would be partially correct, but there’s another factor every American family must address—a new addiction that isn’t caused by a virus, an illegal drug or alcohol, but by social media, a 21st century phenomena that has spread rapidly.

Today, about 4.9 billion people around the world use social media — more than half of the nearly 8 billion people on the planet. In the U.S., an estimated 308 million people use social media, out of a population of nearly 335 million.

Moreover, a study published by a journal of the American Psychiatric Association found the mental health of young people worsened at the same time their use of social media climbed, noting, “After remaining stable during the early 2000s, the prevalence of mental health issues among U.S. adolescents and young adults began to rise in the early 2010s. These trends included sharp increases in depression, anxiety, loneliness, self‐harm, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide, with increases more pronounced among girls and young women. There is a growing consensus that these trends may be connected to the rise in technology use. Increased digital media and smartphone use may influence mental health via several mechanisms, including displacement of time spent in in‐person social interactions…; disruption of in‐person social interactions; interference with sleep time and quality; cyberbullying and toxic online environments; and online contagion and information about self‐harm.”

A study issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February, based on survey given to 17,000 teenagers, found that 57 percent of girls said they experienced feeling of sadness every day for at least two weeks in the previous year — over 60 percent higher than in 2011. Every single day.

Additionally, “Dr. Victor Fornari, the vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry for Northwell Health, New York’s largest health system, noted that the drop in teenager well-being coincided with the rise of smartphones. Although the technology’s full impact on adolescents’ mental health is still unknown, he said, there is ‘no question’ of an association between the use of social media and the dramatic increase in suicidal behavior and depressive mood,” reported the New York Times.

Human beings are social animals. We need to be in groups and thrive with that interaction. We know as adults spending so much times on computers, smartphones and tablets — and away from people — has created an unnatural and disturbing situation. Add in the political use of fear to manipulate and control us, some still view going out into the world, visiting with people, going to concerts, and even getting back into the workplace, as a dangerous or at least undesirable situation. As adults we can work on these issue, but what we’re doing to children is now manifesting in an undeniable mental health catastrophe which we must reverse.

With technology and social media being so ubiquitous it’s understandable to consider it something that must be accepted without question or modification. But this is incorrect. Some would dismiss concerns about our current situation Luddite in nature, yet this isn’t anti-technology but about discipline and management of something the data shows is impacting the mental health of all of us, and especially children. An article in Scientific American makes an excellent argument about why a modern ‘Luddite’ resistance is valuable right now and provides a “critical reflection and evaluation of the technological world we’re building.”

Some argue this problem can be solved with government regulations and laws. That’s rarely the answer, and in this case is not a solution. The more government intervenes, the less we take seriously, trust, and engage our own responsibility and critical decision making.

Explain social media downsides: Talk to kids about this column and other articles about the harmful aspects of social media, just as you explain the harm alcohol and drugs can cause.

Do fun things together: Family weekend outings and vacations geared to places and activities that interest young people will get them away from screens and strengthen family relationships. Even simply playing a game or watching TV together will take them away from social media.

Encourage contact with peers: Participation in school clubs and sports, religious and community youth groups and other activities will get young people off their screens.    

Set an age minimum: I agree with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who says 13 is too young for children to get on social media, even though this is the minimum (and unenforced) age most social media companies set. Set an older age minimum, depending on the child’s maturity level.

Limit social media time: Kids should be spending no more than an hour a day on social media. Preferably less. Make the point that social media use in moderation is one thing, but overdosing can lead to serious problems. Prepare for them to argue about this but stand firm.

Limit screen locations: Keep smartphones, computers and tablets out of child bedrooms overnight, to prevent them from going on social media and other sites when parents are asleep. Don’t allow screens at the dinner table, which should be reserved for family time to talk to one another.

Set an example: Cutback on your use of social media. 

Parents, teachers and politicians have expressed concerns about the impact of new forms of communications and technology on children for nearly 100 years, from the earliest days of radio, comic books, TV, home computers and video games. But the advent of the internet and social media has created a form of two-way communication that kids can access in ways unimagined in the 20th century. Now that we know the negative impact on children, this is one of many issues with which parents and families must take control.

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David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

From my experience with kids that stay on Social Media all the time have a low I.Q..
No understanding of what’s happening in REAL Life.
Try having a normal conversation with them and they just have this blank look and cannot even carry on an intelligent conversation.
They start getting twitchy wanting to get right back on it even when you are talking to them.
Social media is ruining kids lives.
See TikTok for prime example of ruining kids lives.

Mary Schneider
Mary Schneider
1 year ago

Social media sites and many apps are designed to be addictive, which is why children should not have smartphones or unlimited access to computers. They simply are not mature enough to regulate their use of digital devices and media. Also, while smartphones cut down on in person contact, they allow children and teens to have unlimited digital contact with peers, which is not healthy and which can lead to cyber bullying either as a victim or a participant. Parents should not let teens have smartphones until they are mature enough to handle them, which means that they have demonstrated maturity in other areas of life, like school, family, church, etc.

Michael Harrington
Michael Harrington
1 year ago

I have observed the opposite and I would make the distinction that heavy use of social media dumbs kids down. But I have also noticed that highly intelligent children with very active brains become more addicted to the dopamine hit of information saturation. But I do believe they will also lose interest first because, in the end, social media stimulation is extremely boring compared to real life experiences.

Charles Detmar
Charles Detmar
1 year ago

Once you give a child a smartphone you won’t be able to keep it out of school. Once it goes to school you can forget about the child’s education.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Then add peer pressure to use social media
Blame Big Tech & the Ed System for abuse

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 year ago

Previous generations had drugs This is better ,reaches every one of them and the contend is controlled Perfect.

Karen Knowles
Karen Knowles
1 year ago

Excellent article by Tammy Bruce. I agree with her comments.

Roy
Roy
1 year ago

There are some adults that reach the same state that they’re worried about the children becoming.

Bob L.
Bob L.
1 year ago

Social media is an outgrowth of computers and the internet. I phones are a serious menace to mental as well as physical health. They have become a mental dominating force for no good. The very act of thinking for ones self is being eliminated as dependence on a phone for answers is now the norm. Think what would happen if the phones and web stopped working, long term or permanently and people had to think of what to do to survive. An EMP attack would do just that and instead of a missile carrying the high altitude nuke to destroy our electrical grid, it could be carried by – A HIGH ALTITUDE “SPY” BALLOON allowed to float above our country.

Sometimes and even more so recently I think computers should never have been invented and the closest thing we would have, even today, would be comptometers. Cell phones, even if they were invented should be just and only that, PHONES, no messaging and no computer enabled spam texts/calls. Sure there would be far fewer satellites orbiting Earth, but that would be a good thing too since about 60% of the 6,000 are defunct and junk now, not counting the additional tens of thousands of other smaller junk up there. Another plus is there wouldn’t be any Earth launched junk littering the Moon either.

Andie K
Andie K
1 year ago

I think we could all benefit by being more community-oriented instead of so many people pulling inside of themselves.

Ann S
Ann S
1 year ago

It starts when the kids are small. No more go outside and play. Come to dinner call has been replaced with a text. Play dates are organized by mothers. Because kids go to daycare after school. They don’t bring friends home anymore.
Why don’t kids play outside anymore? Both parents work, because the outside world is too dangerous, at least perceived that way. Family structure is totally in ruins. Everyone is too busy chasing a bigger house a bigger car. Schools are becoming hotbed of sex. Morals are out the window. I can’t belief how fast Ametica went from being een prude country to everything goes.
I guess that is what we get for voting in the dems.

Petner
Petner
1 year ago

How about the negative impact that the mainstream media has on Americans everyday?

Butch
Butch
1 year ago

Just think of the hours in the lives of people that are absolutely consumed with spending the majority of their time on social media that could be doing other things in life. It’s like worshiping an idol. Where ever a person spends the majority of their time, that is their God. I have seen tons of people so addicted, that they will walk across a crowded street with their heads down absolutely buried in their device. Not even turning their heads to see if traffic is coming. If their entire lives flashed before them that’s probably all they would see. Sad.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 year ago

IWhat about the negative impact the CDC has had on teenagers (and their parents) for the last three years? They didn’t mind kids being on devices instead of school then…

Joanne 4 justice
Joanne 4 justice
1 year ago

Amazing statistics! Is social media replacing social interaction (s) ???? ????

Denise
Denise
1 year ago

Re: high priced phones, bad mouthing and threatening anonymously, lack of truth, propaganda day and night, distancing of people from others, a leftist bought and paid for “media” that deliberately incites tension, division and hatred, “schools” pushing perversion lies, lack of discipline, babies slaughtered like sacrificial lambs on the alter of “choice”…partially due to the increasingly combative and intrusive “child welfare services”, leftist headlines declaring that children don’t belong to their parents, “parents” deliberately exposing young children to ‘drag queens’, supposed institutions pushing this ‘gender change’ on children as young as 3 years…Yale University and Seattle Children’s Hospital; forced isolation for two years even after Hiz-eminence Fauci originally opined that the virus (and he should know having “donated” $85,000 to the Wuhan lab) was so minute it would go right through any mask. Criminal “justice” MIA, cops under attack (one might wonder just what the leftists might replace them with) parents accused of “child abuse” for discipline, and on and on… Bottom line and it’s as old as mankind itself. Isolate one from another, create suspicion, push division, ignore the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights…NOT suggestions.
And most importantly and definitely not least…Carefully remove the God of all creation from all equations.
“Divide and Conquer” the oldest game in the book.

Denise
Denise
1 year ago

Social media or social destruction?

Sam
Sam
1 year ago

I wouldn’t have a cell phone if the sumbucks were free.

tika
tika
1 year ago

anyone who RELIES on pictures to form opinions loses reading/thinking/reasoning skills.you reduce yourself to being a trained monkey.

Robin W Boyd
Robin W Boyd
11 months ago

This is not a new issue. Not so long ago we were convinced that computer games were ruining our youth. The problem is not social media but rather the content that occurs on social media that is not being allowed to be be disputed or even fairly discussed.

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