Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Tagmental health

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A child using smart phone lying in bed late at night, playing games. Children's screen addiction and parent control concept. Child's room at night. Sensitive content on screen

Andrew McDiarmid on Teens and Smartphones

We can mitigate the mental health crisis, but we have to act now.

Discovery Institute’s podcasting director and Mind Matters contributor Andrew McDiarmid recently appeared on the Michael Medved Show, a podcast on “pop culture and politics.” Medved and McDiarmid discussed the mental health crisis among teens and adolescents due in large part, per the research, to the explosion of social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. McDiarmid has written on this issue before at length, and strongly believes that if we care about the next generation, we would do well to heed what’s going on with the youths and their smartphones and do something about it. “It all started around 2010,” McDiarmid told Medved, going on to say: Facebook was kicking things into high gear, Twitter was on the scene and Read More ›

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Teenage boy in a bedroom listening to music through his smartphone

New Report: Parents, Don’t Give Your Kids Smartphones

This has become a national health crisis.

In the late 1800s, a patented medicine geared towards children called Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was made accessible to the public. The product claimed to calm children down, help them sleep, and whiten their teeth. There was no prescription necessary for purchase, and furthermore, no disclosures of the ingredients. The stuff worked miracles. It really seemed to work. It turns out, unfortunately, that Mrs. Winslow’s magic potion was brimming with both morphine and alcohol. Nothing like getting a baby drunk to get it to go to sleep, right? Mrs. Winslow must have decided that drugging and intoxicating kids was the best way keep them in check. Consequently, medical companies started being required to disclose what was actually in their products, Read More ›

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young  unhappy woman suffering from depression, and stress

Is This a Moral Reckoning? 41 States Sue Meta for Knowingly Addicting Young Users

The lawsuit claims that Meta's platforms are harming its young users. The data backs it up.

Let the lawsuit begin. Dozens of states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Meta, the tech giant responsible for Instagram and Facebook, for misleading the public about the addictive dangers of its social media platforms. The states, 41 in total, allege that Meta’s products are purposefully addictive and are harming users, particularly kids. Karissa Bell reports, A central claim of the lawsuit is that Meta’s business model depends on holding the attention of young users on Facebook and Instagram, even at the expense of their wellbeing. “Meta designed and deployed harmful and psychologically manipulative product features to induce young users’ compulsive and extended Platform use, while falsely assuring the public that its features were safe and suitable Read More ›

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a person takes pictures with her phone, photographs healthy food

Homogeneity via Instagram and the Internet

Spending too much time online shapes our personality and outlook perhaps more than we'd like to admit.

This is a good read going into the weekend: an article on how social media, particularly Instagram, tends to homogenize the personalities of those who use it. Freya India begins the article by recognizing how image-based media and the influencer lifestyle have changed the way people, young women in particular, choose to present themselves. She calls it “Instagram face,” writing, It’s that face made up of sculpted cheekbones, big lips, fox eyes and a deep tan; a chimera of sexy, supermodel features. It’s not a natural face. It’s cartoonish, assembled artificially through cosmetics, filters, editing apps and even surgeries, as if girls are endlessly chasing the beauty ideal of their childhoods: an IMVU avatar, or a Bratz doll. Something perfect, Read More ›

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Hands of a male photographer holding a digital camera taking pictures of a idyllic landscape with a lake and mountains while the picture shows at the display

Two Notable Reads: Children and Tech and the Illusions of Photography

How much should kids be online? And is taking pictures taking us out of real life?

For this week’s reading on all things technology, I came across a couple over the weekend that were incredibly interesting and insightful. For starters, there’s a new article out now via the Institute for Family Studies on toddlers and technology use. In summation of a study they conducted, Jane Shawcroft writes, 1. Sometimes it takes a while to reap the rewards of guiding children’s technology use. Children like TV. They like tablets. They are usually upset when you say “no” and don’t let them watch another episode of Paw Patrol or play games on your smartphone. It can be hard in the moment. But remember that research suggests there are some significant payouts down the road. Standing your ground on media rules might be difficult Read More ›

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Young Asian man sitting on stairs outside reading a book

Why You Should Read More Fiction

The mental benefits for reading good stories are many.

When looking for “solutions” to today’s mental health crisis in the United States, particularly among the millions of men who are checking out of society, reading fiction may not immediately come to mind. However, a new article from Psychology Today argues that reading fiction is “essential” for today’s men. The author of the article, psychologist Jett Stone, focuses on men in part because today’s literary market is largely geared towards women, and fiction and femininity are often closely associated. Nonetheless, he believes that reading fiction can benefit both women and men. He writes, Recent research indicates that reading fiction fosters critical thinking by presenting ideas subtly and in more roundabout ways than nonfiction. One study of adolescents found that frequent fiction readers possessed more Read More ›

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Sad man getting dislikes and being rejected by audience for social addiction ad

The Benefits of Ditching Social Media

Tech writer Cal Newport explains why boredom is actually a good thing

Cal Newport ascended into the limelight upon his viral Ted Talk in which he called people to ditch social media. In this video from last year, Newport rehashes some of the main benefits of not having social media. Boredom is on the list, interestingly; Newport notes that most people no longer have moments of boredom, and as a consequence, don’t have any space in their lives to reflect, think, and work through their emotions. Andrew McDiarmid, a contributor at Mind Matters, has written on this in the past. He notes, Mind wandering, or stream of consciousness thought, gives us several mental gains, including the ability to consider obstacles to future goals, generate novel, creative thoughts, and place our experiences in meaningful Read More ›

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Beauty injection concept. Syringe with violet liquid for hypodermic injection.

This Country Just Legalized Euthanasia

The law isn't even limited to those who are terminally ill

Alas. The president of Portugal just signed into law a bill legalizing euthanasia by lethal injection. It is not limited to the terminally ill — which is at least honest, since that is not what euthanasia/assisted suicide is really all about. From the Reuters story: The law specifies that people would be allowed to request assistance in dying in cases when they are “in a situation of intense suffering, with definitive injury of extreme gravity or serious and incurable disease.” It establishes a two-month gap between accepting a request and the actual procedure and makes psychological support mandatory. Strict guidelines and all that jazz. Not only are they unlikely to be strictly enforced but will soon be redefined from protections to barriers, Read More ›

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Closed up image of a Female using TikTok application on a smartphone in home. 5 September, 2022. ChiangMai, Thailand.

TikTok is Storing Data in China, Contrary to Former Claims

TikTok CEO said user data isn't stored in China. Turns out it is.

Many online creators and entrepreneurs give sensitive data to TikTok, the China-owned social media app, so they can do business on the platform. That includes social security numbers. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told Congress earlier this year that users’ data was stored outside of China in places such as Virginia and Singapore. Apparently, however, that is an inaccurate claim. According to a report from Forbes, TikTok has indeed been storing sensitive data on Chinese servers, where employees there can access it. Alexandra S. Levine reports, A trove of records obtained by Forbes from multiple sources across different parts of the company reveals that highly sensitive financial and personal information about those prized users and third parties has been stored in China. Read More ›

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Finger touching phone with social media concept and dark background

Social Media is Hurting Kids. Does Big Tech Care?

Body image issues, low self-esteem, and social comparison are all typical outcomes of excessive social media use among teens and children

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a warning in a briefing this week on the negative impact of social media on kids, particularly teenage girls. Murthy called tech companies to provide “safeguards” to protect children who are at a critical stage in brain development. Early exposure to social media, numerous studies show, are correlated with anxiety and depression in young people. Murthy said, “We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis – one that we must urgently address.” Social media could harm youth mental health, U.S. Surgeon General warns | Reuters Problems like body image issues, low self-esteem, and social comparison are all Read More ›

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Young woman using smart phone

TikToxic: The Popular App is Feeding Teens a “Diet of Darkness”

Apart from the debate over espionage and data privacy, TikTok is a highly addictive app

TikTok has gained a fair bit of fierce criticism over the last few months; the China-owned social media app is the most popular on the market, with tens of millions of users and downloads. That includes, of course, teenagers. Apart from the debate over espionage and data privacy, TikTok is a highly addictive app. We covered more on that here, but recent studies show that it’s not just the amount of time spent on the app that is troubling, but the specific kinds of content young people are ingesting every day. Julie Jargon writes in the Wall Street Journal, Data privacy, though, might be less worrisome than the power of TikTok’s algorithm. Especially if you’re a parent. A recent study found that Read More ›

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Diverse culture in society and social justice together as a crowd of diverse people representing community and black history or cultural celebration of diversity

Dealing with Social Anxiety: Set Some Goals

Without an overarching goal, we can't effectively practice the practical steps that can get us over social anxiety

It’s no secret that rates of anxiety and depression have risen drastically in the modern American context. A cacophony of factors is to blame–everything from the decline of faith, loss of community, and digital media addiction. And for many, even when the possibility of social interaction arrives, the anxiety kicks in and leaves them feeling immobile and paralyzed. So, what can we do to practice confidence and ease in public situations? A new article at Psyche goes into depth on practical steps people can take to overcome social anxiety. The first recommendation is goal-setting. What’s your vision? What are the goalposts you’re shooting for in life? Fallon Goodman writes, Without an overarching goal, we can’t effectively practice the steps that Read More ›

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creepy TV static

When Disaster Strikes Through the TV

News cycles that profit off constant, sensationalized negativity aren't helping

A hundred years ago it would have been unimaginable to watch a tragedy unfold on the other side of the world. Such news might get peddled via newspaper, or later through radio, but the access we now enjoy to the rest of the world is unprecedented. How is that affecting us? According to this study, covered in an article from The Conversation, televised disaster and tragedy can severely affect the mental health of children to varying degrees. The authors write, Our latest research uses brain scans to show how simply watching news coverage of disasters can raise children’s anxiety and trigger responses in their brains that put them at risk of post-traumatic stress symptoms. It also explores why some children are more Read More ›

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Cellphone, mental health and woman in her bed with depression while watching videos on social media. Tired, sleepy and depressed female with insomnia networking on a phone in her bedroom at home.

Working Towards Digital Flourishing

Dawn Wible, the founder of Talk More Tech Less, continues her conversation with Robert J. Marks on digital tech. How can we healthily use technology instead of being manipulated by Big Tech? In this episode, she lays out practical steps people can take to reclaim their time, relationships, and mental health. Additional Resources

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Sample social media app interface on mobile phone showing shared video content

Girl Tragically Dies After Doing Horrific TikTok Challenge

The 12-year-old from Argentina isn't the only victim of the fatal TikTok "blackout challenge"

A 12-year-old girl from Argentina died after trying the dangerous “choke challenge” on TikTok, per the New York Post. The girl, Milagros Soto, was found in a closet hanging from a makeshift noose on January 13th. Soto’s family members think she was bullied and challenged to perform the horrible online fad while at school. Soto isn’t the only casualty of the TikTok challenge, which involves asphyxiating oneself until passing out. It’s also only one of many “fatal fads” circulating the TikTok sphere. Also known as the “blackout challenge,” Tiktok users chase virality and clout by forcing themselves to pass out. In light of the tragic death, people are begging parents to prohibit TikTok from their children. Several Twitter users spoke Read More ›

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In State of the Union, Biden Vows to Curb Social Media Harms

Biden addressed the mental health harms of social media use on children and teens

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden referred to the harms of social media in his State of the Union address, announcing policy proposals to curb those harms. In response, however, some have been critical of the president’s remarks, accusing him of ignoring social media’s deeper dangers. Over an hour into his speech, President Biden turned to mental health and the emotional toll the pandemic has had, especially on children. Then he turned to the emotional health toll exacted by social media, long before the first COVID-19 lockdowns. “Children were also struggling before the pandemic – bullying, violence, trauma, and the harms of social media,” he said. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop Read More ›

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colonnade in medieval spanish monastery of Santo Estevo

Can Religion Improve a Person’s Mental Health?

That’s a big claim but there is considerable evidence for it. The question is, what does the evidence mean?

In 2020, a year when Americans’ perception of their own mental health dropped significantly, we are told that Gallup reported: The only demographic subgroup who didn’t report a decline were those who attend religious services weekly. That group showed an increase of 4 percent compared to 2019. Joe Carter, “New Study: Frequent Churchgoers Have Better Mental Health” at Gospel Coalition Carter cites several sources arguing for the benefits of religion but, in truth, it’s not really a new idea. Religion gives people something to believe in, provides a sense of structure and typically offers a group of people to connect with over similar beliefs. These facets can have a large positive impact on mental health—research suggests that religiosity reduces suicide Read More ›

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Is Your Brain More a Muscle or a Cloud?

JP Moreland discusses the habits of anxiety and depression and how to defeat them

With guest host Mike Keas, JP Moreland discusses his new book, Finding Quiet. He addresses the relative evidence for the soul and the brain, the integration of faith with knowledge from the social and natural sciences, and biblical and practical ways to retrain your brain and body to defeat habits of anxiety and depression. Show Notes 01:15 | Knowledge of Read More ›