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.’

Overwhelming Obsession

The 2022 Utah U. report warns:

‘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.

Thankfully, there are proactive ways families can help their teens navigate the rough water between this virtual Scylla and Charybdis.

Utah U. suggests parents become more ‘aware of what their kids are doing online — and to look for any changes in their child’s behaviour.’

Encouraging a clean break from social media use, Utah U. said:

‘We all know how the algorithm works — the more you look at your phone, the more it will send compelling content to keep your eyes from looking away.’

Their report ends with four ways parents can overrule their kids’ online overlords:

  1. Delete social media apps from devices.
  2. Leave devices at home.
  3. Disable notifications.
  4. Limit use via the phone’s settings.

This is a solid policy.

None of my five kids is given access to social media, nor do they own a smartphone until they’ve finished school, or turn 18.

There are good reasons to slam the brakes on the “iPhone” phenomenon.

Chief among them is the fact that technology is a tool, not a toy.

Exploiting Vulnerabilities

While not solely responsible for all cases of teen suicide, the Technocracy remains tight-lipped about its complicity in fuelling the epidemic. (See here and here.)

Additionally, a 2018 study from India found that ‘self-harming youth are more active on online social networks than youth who do not engage in self-harm behaviour.’

Like the Utah University, the Indian Journal of Psychiatry concluded:

‘Greater time spent on online social networking promotes self-harm behaviour and suicidal ideation in vulnerable adolescents.’

To build on Utah U.’s conclusions, parents need to win their kids back, then teach them how ‘important taking a break from screen use is for our mental and physical health.’

The debate about causation aside, it’s clear that mums and dads do their families a disservice if they ignore the power of social media, and how it is often weaponised by the young.

A demographic handed great power, without the emotional maturity to know how to handle it.

The internet is truly the Wild West.

As one mature-aged video gamer said to me, “social media magnifies human dysfunction.”

His was a simple explanation, but he hit the mark.

One viral artwork blasts out this truism, declaring:

‘When the phone was tied with a wire — humans were free.’

Or as Tom MacDonald worded it in Clown World:

“All the phones got smart. The people got dumb. We care more about likes on a selfie than our mums.”


Photo by Ibraim Leonardo.

About the Author: Rod Lampard

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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