CEO and Founder
of Common Sense Media
Professor of Psychological Science
and Informatics at the University of California, Irvine
Here is what we have in store this week:
• We debate whether social media is the main cause behind our children’s mental health struggles
• A closer look at the apps and websites they are on
• Your Sunday reading list
Do you know what your kids are doing online? Yes, the most likely answer is DMing their friends — but there may be more going on behind the screens. As they spend more time interacting with friends online than in the real world, along with increasing statistics of teens who say they experience more mental health struggles, many are concerned that social media is a danger to younger generations.
Those concerns are reflected by the US Surgeon General’s recent advisory on social media’s effects: “Children are exposed to harmful content on social media, ranging from violent and sexual content, to bullying and harassment… We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis…”
However, some scientists challenge that view and say that there’s more to the story. Additionally, they say, it’s up to parents to teach their kids how to use these platforms responsibly and some vulnerable teens say social media allows them to find a sense of community that can’t find IRL.
This week, we debate: Is Social Media Bad for Kids’ Mental Health? Arguing “YES” is Jim Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, who has spent his career advocating for families to make smart media and technology choices for their children. Arguing “NO” is Candice Odgers, a developmental psychologist with expertise in adolescent mental health who says there is more to the story.
DEBATING THE DATA
Facebook has dropped in usage for teens.
Does it have as big of an effect on their mental health now?
Is Social Media Bad for Kids’ Mental Health?
“We are going through a youth mental health crisis in the United States here, but also globally… there’s a wealth of research that shows that social media is first and foremost addictive. It’s been intentionally designed for maximum user engagement. It’s an arms race for your attention, for your kid’s attention, and it capitalizes upon the most vulnerable and underdeveloped brains.”
“I’m worried about the youth mental health crisis. I want us to focus on solutions. I want us to hear from the kids who are going online because… [if] you survey adolescents and ask them where they’re going to get help for mental health problems, where they’re searching for answers, they’re going online, and I don’t blame them. The ratio of counselors in our middle and public schools is one to every 500 students.”
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