There’s a heavy silence around the connection between teen suicide and social media.
Victims of this epidemic are usually in their teens, and come from a variety of backgrounds.
While the consensus is that this connection is difficult to find, one study said there was a ‘direct association between heavy social media/internet use and increased suicide attempts.’
Factors include unrestricted access to the internet, resulting in exposure to inappropriate content, and the problematic use of social media.
Although social media has benefits — with teens using the platforms to reach out, share, and connect with the world around them — according to the University of Utah, ‘teens are managing an addiction without realizing it.’
‘Young adults who use social media are three times as likely to suffer from depression — putting a large portion of the population at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviours.’
Citing the mind mechanics used by social media companies to manipulate young netizens, Utah U. stated that social media users become ‘obsessed with instant gratification and in some instances base their worth or image off the images they see and the amount of likes they receive on their post.’
Contributing to the report, clinical social worker Jessica Holzbauer explained what most seasoned adults already know: “Social media can have negative consequences on mental health.”
This is because Silicon Valley knows how to attract, and keep people returning, to their apps.
Insights from behavioural science give technocrats the tools to manipulate users into extending their stay.
Their techno-trap offers a sense of reward, like cheese being offered to an obedient rat.
For example, Holzbauer said, users get a “dopamine release in the brain when they pick up a smartphone or log into social media.”
What links social media use back to teen suicide, Holzbauer inferred, is ‘the information teens are putting out, and taking in.’
While having the power of knowledge at the push of a button has benefits, the drawbacks include impressionable users being exposed to information, ideas, pictures, and trends well beyond what they’re emotionally and psychologically mature enough to handle.
For the majority of teens, the seedy side of society that social media exposes them to is far from age-appropriate.
A warning sign that teens are getting lost in this matrix, Holzbauer adds, is when ‘they’re focusing too much of their attention on social media at the expense of real-life interactions.’
Aids for Parents
Parents are not without tools to counter the techno-tyranny.
Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.
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