Social Media: The Real Pandemic Killing Our Children!
By James Lane Reichenbach, Ph.D., MBA, Founder and CEO, American Reveille LLC
On Friday, September 30th, 2022, a London coroner ruled the 2017 death of Molly Russell a suicide resulting from harmful social media posts. This historic ruling quietly occurred while the world was focused on other things. In regard to our children, their mental health, and how it relates to social media, the world always seems to be focused on other things. This ruling, however, puts social media platforms on notice. The day in which platforms will be held accountable for our dead children is coming and coming soon.
Is it so hard to comprehend and accept that social media platforms have a negative effect on our children and even society as a whole? It isn’t even hard to prove if you look in the right places and stop listening to the status quo. Remember, companies and advertisers pay big money to sell “safe and inclusive” online spaces to our children. So many studies point to these negative effects. For instance, two Apple shareholders ($2 billion in value), Jana Partners and the California State Teachers Retirement Systeme (CalSTRS), recently called out Apple in an open letter citing Harvard and Sandiego State University studies demonstrating 35% increases in suicide rates among teens using Apple devices more than three hours a day. Another study shows a mysterious rise in suicide and mental health crisis among five to eleven-year-old children by over 24% between 2013-2017. There are countless studies, but I’ll only mention one more. The CDC conducted a study between 2007 and 2015, demonstrating the suicide rates among fifteen to nineteen-year-old teenage girls reached a 40-year high, doubling for girls and rising 30% for boys.
Only one thing coincides with the timeline of every study, one thing that fits and resulted in radical changes to how children receive information, deal with bullies, and talk with their friends. Something drastically changed culture, like a tsunami ripping through an ill-prepared island nation. On June 29th, 2007, the iPhone was released in the United States, putting the unbridled power of social media and the internet in the hands of our children, with no measures of control or supervision. If we, the supposed adults, can’t stop screaming at each other on Twitter about politics, flat Earth theories, and World War III, how do you think our children have handled this over the past 15 years? Do you want the difficult answer? They’ve handled it by killing themselves, or joining cult trends and then killing themselves, or by becoming homeless. Google homeless children in the United States and prepare for an awakening. Bad ideas used to fizzle out, but now they live forever…and a lot of them kill our children.
I don’t necessarily have an answer to how we fix this, only an explanation for how we got here and what I think humanity will come to know in the future. The artwork for this article was chosen specifically for this ending because of the significance of the point I’m about to make. In the future, the iPhone will be locked up in a museum, and there will be a disclaimer listing all the old social media platforms. It will speak of the speed at which information can spread and how it can take on a life of its own. How bad ideas, moving at the speed of light, can infect susceptible people, almost like a virus, a “techno-virus,” and drive them to act in ways never expected, from disassociation to strange behavior, to cult-like actions, and even suicidal tendencies. The inscription will discuss how we almost destroyed society with a small plastic picture box. When what was meant to be a tool becomes a substitution for real life, we should expect real-life consequences. In the case of social media and the iPhone, the perfect virus was created, and in 2007, the real pandemic began.
[Note: Our bloggers are independent writers with their own constitutionally granted opinions, viewpoints, interpretations, and feelings. Their views do not always represent that of American Reveille LLC. Regardless, we support their right to free speech and a medium to express it! Got a problem with that? Go somewhere else!]
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