WSJ says Instagram is harmful for teens

I read an interesting article today about Instagram and teen girls called “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Internal Documents Show.” Written by Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharama for the Wall Street Journal, the article says that social media may become the youth generation’s tobacco companies.

Waffles the pug. Waffles has his own Instagram account wafflezworldwide.

You can read the entire article HERE.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”

For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.

“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram, one presentation showed.

Isn’t this scary? I feel like someone’s unleashed Godzilla on the world. What will we know 10 or 20 years from now? Hopefully, we will move beyond social media and get back to in person interaction. I think if I were a parent of younger kids today, I wouldn’t let my kids have a smart phone, but stick with the flip phones or dumb phones. I didn’t get my kids smart phones until they were in high school.

Another thing I found troubling with this article is that Facebook has done internal studies for several years and they know Instagram has issues at its core. But they downplay them to the public. Our congress and senate have asked for Facebook’s studies and they do not comply with the requests.

Here’s more from the article:

In public, Facebook has consistently played down the app’s negative effects on teens, and hasn’t made its research public or available to academics or lawmakers who have asked for it.

“The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a congressional hearing in March 2021 when asked about children and mental health.

The features that Instagram identifies as most harmful to teens appear to be at the platform’s core.

The tendency to share only the best moments, a pressure to look perfect and an addictive product can send teens spiraling toward eating disorders, an unhealthy sense of their own bodies and depression, March 2020 internal research states. It warns that the Explore page, which serves users photos and videos curated by an algorithm, can send users deep into content that can be harmful.

“Aspects of Instagram exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm,” the research states.

What are your thoughts about Instagram and other social media? Do you spend much time with it? Do your kids or grandkids? Do you notice a change in how they feel after they use social media? I find I’m using it less and less.

Should parents monitor their kids social media?

blond brother and sister at Laguna Beach.
My children before there was a thing called social media.

Social media is not going away anytime soon. I’ve read articles where 95% of kids from age 12 to young adults use Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. Those are the preferred apps. In an article called Are you OK? | Teens and social media posted on KING TV5 in Seattle, there’s lots of good advice for parents .

By now we all know that social media can cause depression, anxiety in kids as well as adults. What’s really scary is not only cyber bullying but this shocking statistic: 90% of human trafficking begins on social media.

I discovered that in an article called Mesa-based company creates app to monitor children’s social media in simple format by Georgann Yara on the website AZCentral.

There’s an app developed by two men in Arizona that allows parents to monitor their kids social media sites. Here’s a bit of the article:

Years before they met and launched Cyber Dive, a social media monitoring tech company geared toward parents, Jeff Gottfurcht and Derek Jackson were well aware of social media’s powerful and dangerous side.

Gottfurcht is the first person in the world to summit Mt. Everest with Rheumatoid Arthritis. When he returned home from that trip in 2011, he saw a news story about a young girl who was humiliated and bullied on social media after word got out about her being sexually assaulted.

Around the same time, Jackson was across the globe in the Army 1st Special Forces Group, where he spent time in Kuwait, Jordan and Syria. He was an intelligence officer looking into how U.S. adversaries and radical insurgents used social media to recruit members to their cause and perpetuate propaganda.

In 2019, the two got together and formed Cyber Drive because of that story about the girl who was victimized on social media. They created an app to help parents get meaningful information about their kids online activity, while still allowing children independence.

Here’s how it works:

The software covers all platforms and the free membership option includes monitoring on indicators like recurring themes in language, dangerous or suspicious online activity and emotions indicated by analysis of their data. The $5 monthly premium membership allows greater access to features like friends lists, posts and Google searches. ‍

When parents sign up for either membership, they must enter their child’s email address. Then, their child receives a message explaining that someone will use Cyber Dive to monitor their accounts. Parents are encouraged to discuss this with their child before signing up, Gottfurcht said.

Parents use the app for different reasons. Some for safety concerns while others want to have a closer relationship with their children. You can visit Cyber Dive’s website HERE to find out more.

It sounds like a great idea to me. But do you think teens would figure out away around it? Do you think it’s a good idea to keep tabs on teens social media and why or why not?

Why I think I’ll give up Facebook for Lent

images-2One of my daughter’s good friends from her club swim team gives up social media each year for Lent. I’ve been reading all these stories about how Facebook is causing stress and anxiety in young people, and I applaud this friend for taking a break each year.

I mentioned to both my kids that I thought I should give up social media for Lent as well. Their overwhelming response was “Great!” and “Thank goodness!” I have decided to give up Facebook because I am beginning to believe that if social media is causing young people distress, is it that good for us older folks? I’m going to continue to blog and my posts show up automatically on FB, and I will continue with that. But, I’m going to make a conscious effort to really connect with my friends live. I’m going to call and talk, visit in person and hey—one of my favorite things—go out to lunch!

It’s going to be an interesting experiment and I’ll let you know how it goes. Perhaps it will free up more time for my writing! I mentioned to my daughter that I still want to use Twitter because it’s where I get my news. I like to see what’s “trending.” She’s telling me that if I give up social media, I need to go all the way!

I’m a convert to Catholicism and I really knew very little about the faith and I had no clue what Lent was until I took a nine-month course called Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). I did this after my son was born and before I had my daughter. My husband and I wanted to raise our kids with religion, but he was Catholic while I was Protestant. We visited several churches to see where we felt at home. I believed we needed to be on the same page if we were going to raise our kids with religion, so I signed up for RCIA. I was totally moved by our former pastor and the church we decided to join.

Exactly what is Lent? I found an article called “When does Lent 2018 start? Key dates, how long it lasts and the meaning behind the Christian tradition” that explains it pretty well on the mirror.com. Here are the basic facts:

Here’s everything you need to know about the beginning of Lent, when it ends, Christian prayers and fasting as the tradition is marked between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday

When does Lent begin?

For Western churches Lent begins every year on Ash Wednesday, the day after Shrove Tuesday .

This year it begins on February 14.

The date varies from year to year, starting in either late February or early March.

However, for Eastern Orthodox churches it begins on Clean Monday (February 19 this year), two days before Western churches.
What is Lent?
Lent takes place every year in the 40 days leading up to Easter, and is treated as a period of reflection and a time for fasting from food and festivities.

It symbolises the days which lead up to Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, when Christ spent 40 days and nights alone in the Judaean Desert being tempted by Satan.

 

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Hanging out with real live friends at last year’s Masters swim meet.

What are your thoughts about taking a break from social media?

 

 

 

What do you think about boosting your social media with fake followers?

 

 

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Real-life friends.

Have you read the stories about people paying for fake Twitter followers? Doesn’t that sound sad to pay for “friends?” Apparently many celebs, famous people do it as well as everyday folks. Somehow upping their numbers in followers makes them feel secure or more popular?

I was talking to my daughter this morning about social media and she told me she has real-life friends that obsess over Instagram. They work to have a perfect image and the photos she sent me of them are so ridiculous. Perfect make-up, poses, backgrounds. It looks like an incredible amount of time and effort went into these pictures. And I know these girls and in real life–they barely resemble the image they are promoting. I don’t get it.

 

I’m so thankful we didn’t have social media when I was a kid. It was nice to have a break from your “public image” and lounge around in my bedroom or in front of the TV and not worry about what everyone else was doing. There was social pressure to fit in and be popular when I was in junior high and high school. That was enough in itself without having to keep up appearances on Facebook and Instagram. I wonder how many kids today are resorting to fake followers or obsessing over their social media image?

Here’s an excerpt from “Paying to be popular: inside social media’s black market for fake followers” by Nicholas Confessore, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Richard Harris and Mark Hansen that appeared in the New York Times and Seattle Times:

“The real Jessica Rychly is a Minnesota teenager with a broad smile and wavy hair. She likes reading and the rapper Post Malone. When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends.

But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio, the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real-estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high-school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted pornography.

All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure U.S. company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social-media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.

Several Devumi customers acknowledged that they bought bots because their careers had come to depend, in part, on the appearance of social-media influence. “No one will take you seriously if you don’t have a noteworthy presence,” said Jason Schenker, an economist who specializes in economic forecasting and has purchased at least 260,000 followers.

More than 100 self-described influencers — whose market value is even more directly linked to their follower counts on social media — have purchased Twitter followers from Devumi.

After reading countless articles of how social media is adding to our children’s stress, anxiety and depression, I’m beginning to think of it as more evil than good. Yes, I’ve enjoyed reuniting with friends I’ve lost touch with. Yes, I like the updates from my second cousin about her chemo treatments. Other than that, I think I might be happier without it. I used to get birthday phone calls each year and look forward to talking to my friends who bothered to call. Nowadays, I get a string of “happy birthdays” on Facebook. It’s not the same thing. I think we avoid talking and interacting in person, thanks to social media. It’s so much easier to text or PM rather than the give and take, patience and time, an actual phone call can take. I find I don’t like talking on the phone as much as I used to, and I often am the one to end the call first.

I pity the people who feel they have to have “followers” and buy friends. Especially if they feel their success depends upon it. I worry about this extra persona our children feel the need to create.

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Hanging out in our back yard with real live friends.

What are your thoughts about buying followers on social media?

What is a “quarter-life crisis” and are our kids headed for one?

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As a parent with two kids in the millennial age group, I was struck by the term “quarter-life crisis.” There is definitely a transition period after college graduation and trying to figure out the next phase of their lives. My daughter is a senior in college and she’s unsure what comes next. My son spent six-months after college graduation trying out a few different jobs before landing one that he thinks he’s sticking with for “a year or two.” Then it’s back to graduate school?

In an article I read on CNBC, Linda Ha describes the uncertainty of graduating from college and facing the question—“what’s next?”

“Millennials face life after college, finding a ‘quarter-life crisis’ instead of dream jobs

“Some freshly minted graduates feel sad, helpless and isolated because of constant change and too many choices.

“The idea of a ‘quarter-life crisis’ has led some millennials to struggle in their search for post-graduate meaning.

” ‘I consistently tried to avoid people, and I would ignore messages on my phone,’ one grad tells CNBC.

“Raphael Natividad is guilty of something most millennials don’t usually do: ignoring his phone.

“Natividad, who recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a degree in heath policy, has a legitimate reason, one that speaks to an existential crisis that has befallen a growing number recent graduates.

” ‘I was ashamed that I didn’t have a full-time job right after college, and that shame made me hesitant to spend time with underclassmen or with peers who I thought had brighter futures,’ Natividad told CNBC in a recent interview.

” ‘I consistently tried to avoid people, and I would ignore messages on my phone or on group chats to avoid any conversation about the future.’

“Although not an official designation by the American Psychiatric Association, a few therapists are using the term ‘post-graduation depression.’ According to mental health professionals — and recent graduates feeling its effects — the condition is characterized by a period of severe sadness, loss of motivation, helplessness and isolation due to constant change and an overabundance of choices.”

The article always references how social media is causing this age group to have more anxiety and depression. Everyone is portraying their life on social media as fantastic, amazing and that they are on track to success. In reality that makes some people feel withdrawn and less accomplished. The reality is that everyone is pretty much in the same boat. And yes, the transition from having a structured life with the focus on education and being supervised by parents to living alone and making their own decisions and choices is a tough one. We can make it better as parents by giving our kids more freedom to make choices when they’re younger.

Are your kids headed for a “quarter-life crisis?” Did you go through a rough transition from college life to adulthood, too?

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My millennials.

Do you know what apps are on your teen’s phone?

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You can’t use social media underwater–yet.

Most parents want to know what our kids are doing on social media. We’ve been aware of the dangers out there—from sexual predators to cyberbullying. Our kids who spend too much time on their phones are more prone to anxiety and depression. Suicide has doubled for girls from 2007 to 2015 reaching a 40-year high, according to new analysis from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

A decade ago our kids were on MySpace. Then they moved to Facebook. They’re on Instagram and Snapchat now, but are we? The problem I see with social media is that as soon as we figure out how to use a platform, our kids have jumped onto a new one.

In the article called “Got teens? Four popular apps you need to know about” by Amy Morganroth, she details four apps I’ve never heard of. Have you?

“If you’ve got tweens or teens who are on phones or iPads or similar devices, you need to stay vigilant about the latest “hot” apps.

“Many are targeted at kids under the age of 18 and are wildly popular because they are free and easy to use.

“But most also have pretty frightening features that could put your kids at risk if they connect with the wrong person.

“On the flip side, we also highlight one app that’s designed to help parents make sure their child responds to their text messages.”

The apps she mentions are Yellow, musical.ly and Sarahah that can be platforms for cyberbullying or meeting up with strangers. Yellow is called “Tinder” for kids. It’s a meet-up app and there are no controls on it. The app musical.ly allows users to create music videos with their friends. That may sound harmless but one dad reported that his seven-year-old daughter was asked to post topless photos of herself. Sahara is a messaging app and the problem is it’s all anonymous, hence the cyberbullying. The app ‘Reply ASAP’ allows parents to remotely lock their kids’ phones if they don’t respond to their text within three minutes. I’d like that one. I hate it when my kids don’t respond to my texts.

I haven’t found the answer to the dangers of social media for our kids mental and physical health. My only suggestion is to get your kids into an environment where they have to put their phones down. Like in the swimming pool, a hike in the mountains–or a day at the beach.

Are you fluent in knowing what apps are on your kid’s phones? How do you monitor their social media?

 

robert 1

Another place there’s no social media because our cell phones have zero bars.