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Social Media Researcher Calls CDC Report “The Last Straw”

When will we finally start listening to struggling teens?

Social psychologist and researcher Jean Twenge calls the latest CDC report on youth behavior “the last straw.” After years of raising the alarm about the negative effects of social media like Instagram and Snapchat on teens, particularly females, Twenge finds the situation direr than ever. It’s time to wake up and actually listen to the suffering of teens. Twenge writes in a recent post from the Institute for Family Studies,

Contrary to popular belief, teen girls do not deny that social media plays a role in their misery. In Meta’s internal research on Instagram, leaked in 2021, teens frequently blamed the pressures of social media for their generation’s high rates of depression (“this reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups,” one internal report noted.) So why don’t girls give up social media? Partially because the sites’ algorithms are designed to keep users on the app for as long as possible, and it’s even harder for teens to stop given their developmental stage. Many teens have also told me they don’t know how. All of their friends use social media so they would feel left out if they didn’t use it, despite the negative content that is harming them.”

-Jean Twenge, Teenage Girls Are in Trouble. It’s Time to Acknowledge Social Media’s Role | Institute for Family Studies (ifstudies.org)

While there is growing bipartisan support to establish a social media user’s age minimum of 16, Twenge stresses that parents are responsible for their kids’ phone usage.

Like many parents, I am frustrated that we need to solve this problem one by one when so many families are looking for solutions to the same problem. But until the laws are changed, that’s the situation we’re in if we want to help our teens—and it’s clear that they are crying out for help.

Read Twenge’s full piece here, and if you are a parent seeking solutions to the struggles of your teenage children, note the advice she gives towards the end. This is a problem each family must confront and work through.

For further reading, read Robert J. Marks’ Mind Matters piece on the Asbury Revival and what young people really need: unconditional love.

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Social Media Researcher Calls CDC Report “The Last Straw”