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Dying for likes. The dark truth of social media.

Every night I lie in bed with the intention of relaxing for a few minutes but end up mindlessly scrolling Facebook and Instagram. I know I’m not alone, right?!?! 

A month ago I found a documentary on Netflix called The Social Dilemma. This documentary shows how harmful spending endless hours on social media can be, particularly when it comes to our children.

Starring Skyler Gisondo and Vincent Kartheiser, The Social Dilemma uses real-life testimony from current and former Silicon Valley executives on the various pitfalls of apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

My husband and I, like so many other parents got our kids electronic devices, phones, tablets, etc. way too young and allowed them to have TikTok and Instagram. I’m regretting this so much more and more everyday but even more after watching this. 

As an adult I go back sometimes and check my likes. More so on my business accounts then my personal but if I’m doing this and worrying I’m not getting likes think how our kids are feeling! They're getting their validation and self worth on a selfie they posted through a stupid heart button. 

Social psychologist Professor Jonathan Haidt said a "whole generation" of kids have been blighted by the new technology in an interview for Netflix's The Social Dilemma.

He said: "There has been a gigantic increase in depression and anxiety for American teenagers which began right around 2011- 2013."

According to the documentary, the amount of United States hospital admissions for nonfatal self-harm has gone up by 62 percent for girls between the ages of 15 and 19. For girls who fall into the 10 to 14 age range, the figure has increased by 189 percent since social media became mainstream!!!! 189%!! This hurts my heart so much and so alarming!

Experts are seeing the same trend with suicide rates. Suicides in teen girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have increased by 70 percent compared to the first decade of the century. The suicide rate of preteen girls (between the ages of 10 and 14) has increased by 151 percent in the same time frame, according to Dr. Haidt. Although experts can't say that social media, specifically, has caused these alarming trends, the correlation is unsettling. Again, these are kids! They are too young to be dealing with such heavy emotions

like this. It is so unsettling.

Cyberbullying is said to be behind the rise, along with kids need for approval on the platforms.

Kids are also able to see when they weren’t invited somewhere and feel left out. 

Another takeaway, the documentary, experts confirm that social media users don't have any privacy whatsoever in terms of what they search or what videos and photos they interact with on their feeds. It’s so scary.

Dr. Haidt lays out three rules meant to help parents navigate social media:

  • 1. Keep all devices out of the bedroom at night. "Whatever the time is — half an hour before bedtime — all devices [should be] out," Dr. Haidt advises.

  • 2. No social media until high school. "Personally, I think the age should be 16," he explains. "Middle school's already hard enough. Keep [social media] out until high school."

  • 3. Work out a time budget with your kid. "If you talk with them and say, 'Well, how many hours a day do you want to spend on your device? What do you think is a good amount of time?' They'll often say something pretty reasonable," he says.

I recently got a book called Growing Up Social. Raising Kids in a Screen-driven World, by the author of The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane. I am not that far in it yet but there is a whole section about creating a new normal. I know there will be a whole hell of a lot of resistance at first but I am ready to set even more rules and limits on social media for them. The statistics above are just too scary and alarming for me to not do anything.

Some sobering quotes from the documentary:

"There are only two industries that call their customers 'users': illegal drugs and software"

"Everything you are doing online is being traced, watched every single action you take is monitored thoroughly."

"We want to psychologically figure out how to manipulate you as fast as possible."

"Facebook discovered that they were able to defect real world behaviours and emotions without triggering the users awareness."

"If you are not paying for the product, you are the product."

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