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Apr 2, 2022 6 min read

Social Media Linked to Teenage Anxiety

Wiser! Essay: A UK study of 84,000 teenagers has identified a link between heavy social media usage and teenage anxiety. They also found it affects girls between ages 11 and 13. Whereas for boys, the sensitive period is 14 and 15.


Photo by Kristina Tripkovic / Unsplash

BackStory:  The New York Times has reported a British study of 84,000 teenagers that concluded, "heavy use of social media predicted lower life-satisfaction ratings one year later."

The study is one of the largest of its kind as experts continue to search for concrete evidence of a link between social media and adolescent unhappiness.

The study found that for girls, the sensitive period was between the ages of 11 and 13. Whereas in boys it was between 14 and 15. This was explained as reflecting the biological differences in puberty between boys and girls.

Interestingly, both the boys and girls in the study hit a second period of social media sensitivity around age 19. This is believed to be more related to societal changes, such as finishing school, starting work or going to college. All major upheavals for young people going out into the world.

TalkingPoint:  So far, nobody has found a definite causal link between Social Media and adolescent harm. Simply a correlated one.

Wiser! readers already know that my own bias is firmly set against social media. I believe that it is a cause of significant harm to society, not just adolescent teenagers. So, I'm always looking for the "see, I told you so" evidence to support my opinions. It's a bias I'm always happy to disclose upfront.

Where do you stand on this? And more importantly, if you have teenagers in the house, what are you doing, if anything, about their use of social media?

Source: New York Times

What do you think?
Let me know what you think about this subject by putting your comments, thoughts or feedback in the comment section. (Found at the bottom of the page on the website. ☟)

LinkedIn Reader Survey

Earlier this week I asked my LinkedIn followers what they thought about this issue.  It's just their opinion and there's nothing scientific about it (because the LinkedIn algorithm chose the 9,000+ people who got to see the survey, not me).

Here's how they voted.


Facebook Shift AI Focus to Metaverse and Away from Detecting Harm

Facebook parent Meta Platforms has moved its AI group to the Reality Labs unit developing augmented and virtual reality products. This is according to a report in The Information with a source described as "familiar with the matter". The shift comes as Meta invests more money in AR and VR to develop the metaverse. This is a virtual immersive world that CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees as the next phase of the internet.

With the change, the AI team, which became central to Meta’s efforts to detect harmful content on Facebook, will focus more on metaverse-related efforts.

Source: The Information

TikTok pushes teen safety measures internationally

TikTok is making a promotional push in Europe and Australia around a bundle of safety-focused features. The company remains the target of a major consumer protection complaint in the region.

This has led to active monitoring of its policies by the European Commission. The measures being (re)announced by TikTok include a permanent in-app guide which pushes teens to engage with a ‘4-step’ process (aka: “stop, think, decide, act”)

The video-sharing platform has been facing months of scrutiny by regulators in the EU following consumer protection and privacy complaints. An emergency intervention in Italy last year related to concerns over a ‘blackout challenge’ which local media had linked to the death of a child.

In the latter case, TikTok removed more than half a million accounts in Italy which it had been unable to verify did not belong to children under the age of 13.

EU Commission and authorities in the pan-EU Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) have “engaged” with TikTok since May 28, 2021. The Commission does not have direct enforcement powers in the area of consumer protection.

It will be up to Member States’ consumer protection authorities to decide whether to take enforcement action on any outstanding issues at the end of the CPC “dialogue”

Source: TechCrunch

Facebook's Effort to Attract Preteens: A Cause for Concern?

Internal Facebook documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the company formed a team to study preteens, set a three-year goal to create more products for them and commissioned strategy papers about the long-term business opportunities presented by these potential users.

In one presentation, it contemplated whether there might be a way to engage children during playdates: “Why do we care about tweens?” said one document from 2020.

They are a valuable but untapped audience.

The primary source is an internal Facebook memo titled, ‘Youth Privacy: Defining five groups to guide age-appropriate design’

In more than a dozen studies over that period, the documents show Facebook has tried to understand which products might resonate with children and “tweens” (ages 10 through 12), how these young people view competitors’ apps and what concerns their parents.

“With the ubiquity of tablets and phones, kids are getting on the internet as young as six years old. We can’t ignore this and we have a responsibility to figure it out,” said a 2018 document labelled confidential.

“Imagine a Facebook experience designed for youth.”

Facebook’s first foray into child-specific products was its 2017 launch of Messenger Kids, a video-and-chat app heavy on parental controls. The app says it is designed for users ages 6 through 12 and meets legal requirements on data collection. The hope was that the family-friendly product would set the stage for the children to eventually adopt other Facebook platforms, the documents show.

Source: Wall Street Journal


Social Media "harm" is a subject I've covered before. In case you missed any, here are some Essays and Insights on the subject.

TikTok’s Connection to Eating Disorders & A Curious Rise in Tics
Wiser! Essay: a billion people watch short videos on TikTok every month, but what are they about? New evidence links TikTok to harmful content on eating disorders and a disturbing rise in Tics amongst teen girls.
Is Instagram to blame for the rise in self-harm amongst teenage girls?
Wiser! Essay: Rates of self-harm, depression and social anxiety continue to rise amongst teenage girls. The question is why?
What makes TikTok so addictive?
Wiser! Essay: TikTok is the most addictive platform on Social Media. Leaked documents reveal the how and why.
Facebook’s tobacco moment; Mark Zuckerberg’s toughest time
Wiser! Essay: It’s hard to imagine a tougher week for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. The whistleblower talked to Congress, painting a damning picture, putting profits before safety. To top it off, Facebook scored an own goal, taking the entire network offline for over 5 hours!


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