Academic Consensus Growing: Phones And Social Media Aren't Damaging Your Kids

from the another-techno-panic dept

We’ve pointed out for a while now that every generation seems to have some sort of moral panic over whatever is popular among kids. You’re probably aware of more recent examples, from rock music to comic books to Dungeons and Dragons to pinball machines (really). Of course, in previous generations there were other things, like chess and the waltz. Given all that, for years we’ve urged people not to immediately jump on the bandwagon of assuming new technology must also be bad for kids. And, yet, so many people insist they are. Senator Josh Hawley has practically trademarked his claim that social media is bad for kids. Senator Lindsey Graham held a full hearing all of which was evidence free, moral panicking about social media and the children — and because of that he’s preparing a new law to completely upend Section 230 in the name of “protecting the children” from social media.

Not that it’s likely to stop grandstanding politicians, but over in academia, where they actually study these things, there’s a growing consensus that social media and smart phones aren’t actually bad for kids. While some academics made claims about potential harm a decade or so ago, none of their predictions have proven accurate, and even some of those academics have revised their earlier research, and in one case even admitting that they caused an unnecessary panic:

The debate about screen time and mental health goes back to the early days of the iPhone. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a widely cited paper that warned doctors about ?Facebook depression.?

But by 2016, as more research came out, the academy revised that statement, deleting any mention of Facebook depression and emphasizing the conflicting evidence and the potential positive benefits of using social media.

Megan Moreno, one of the lead authors of the revised statement, said the original statement had been a problem ?because it created panic without a strong basis of evidence.?

A few different “studies of studies” are showing that there’s little to no evidence to support harm from these popular technologies.

The latest research, published on Friday by two psychology professors, combs through about 40 studies that have examined the link between social media use and both depression and anxiety among adolescents. That link, according to the professors, is small and inconsistent.

?There doesn?t seem to be an evidence base that would explain the level of panic and consternation around these issues,? said Candice L. Odgers, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the lead author of the paper, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

There’s a lot more in that NY Times article, or you can read through pretty much all of the recent academic research on the topic.

Of course, the real question is just how silly will Senators Hawley, Graham and others look as they continue to insist that social media and phones are harming the children?

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Comments on “Academic Consensus Growing: Phones And Social Media Aren't Damaging Your Kids”

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Of course, the real question is just how silly will Senators Hawley, Graham and others look as they continue to insist that social media and phones are harming the children?

A better question is do any of them care if they look silly or not. They have already shown they don’t mind being fact free or hypocrites or wrong. As long as they have enough people that believe them and vote them back into their seats, they don’t care how they look.

That One Guysays:

What research?

Of course, the real question is just how silly will Senators Hawley, Graham and others look as they continue to insist that social media and phones are harming the children?

Not a problem, they weren’t interested in the actual data before they made their claims, I’m sure they’ll have no problem dismissing it now, and the same will almost certainly apply to those gullible enough to listen to them.

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Re:

We also need to take into consideration the fact that we’re farming our childcare out to others while we go out to work. We have to — the days of the man going out to work while the woman stays at home to mind the kids are over; he can’t bring home enough bacon to feed the family so she has to work whether she wants to or not. This then takes a toll on the family, and the parents divorce.

Those of us who want careers have to choose between either having kids at a fairly early age and being poor, hoping to get better off later, or staving off having kids until we can afford to, at which point some of us find we can’t have them because we either left it too late or couldn’t have them in the first place.

This is not the result of market forces, it’s the result of our society being more focussed on money than on people. The economy needs to work for the people but we work for the economy and our society is suffering as a result.

It’s easy to blame the parents (I’m a product of a broken home, and yes, finance was a factor) but if we’re going to pass judgement, please get all the evidence in first.

Okay, some parents are crap at parenting, but without the resources and a community like the one I grew up in there’s nobody around to help, advise, and set an example with peers for the kids to emulate. No wonder they’re crap at parenting!


Parents who are crap at parenting

Open communities and extended families helped thin the effect of bad parents (and child-sex-predators) on kids. Also there was time enough to learn to parent, and grandfolks and more experienced moms were nearby to give tips.

But yes, every effort to work our people harder for less takes away from other things they are obligated to do: clean house, groom, teach, mind children, figure out how to vote and so on.

I’m not sure this was an originally intended effect during the early industrial age, but for our new insect overlords, it is a happy accident that helps drive the people into lumpenproletariatism.

It was a joke on the Daily Show twice. John Stewart had a thing getting working folk together to hammer out global problems. But they all had other obligations. And Trevor Noah has a recurring sequence Ain’t Got Time For That for all the crazy serious news that is upstaged by even crazier news.

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Parents who are crap at parenting

Eh, I don’t think class consciousness is the answer to anything. In the UK all it does is drive a politics of envy without addressing any of the issues affecting those of us lower down the scale.

Put it this way: a man who worked for my uncle once asked for a pay rise. Uncle said no can do, but instead offered the man a promotion to farm manager.

The man was delighted, having risen up the class ladder, as it were, but didn’t have an extra penny to show for it.

My takeaway was to become a "Show me the money!" kind of person when it comes to such matters. In the UK, "the money" isn’t being directed to individuals and groups because of class but because of access to privilege. Put it this way: no one can every answer my question as to which class Lord Alan Sugar is in; yes he’s a peer of the realm but he was born in the East End and still has his Cockney accent. Class is a red herring. Show me the money.

Meanwhile, the trendy right-on lefties aren’t willing to even retweet my complaints about benefits claimants starving to death due to sanctions (evil UK Tory policy) or the chronic under-funding of our legal system. It’s actually cheaper for you to go to jail and get it over with than stand trial and face the risk of losing and being on the hook for the bill after months of waiting for a trial date that actually results in a trial being held. They’re more interested in surfing the zeitgeist wave than being in any way useful. No, mate, class consciousness is a waste of time. Show me the money!


Social Media

Social Media, like video games, cars, gambling, or guns, isn’t necessarily bad by itself, but can be abused. The studies pointed out, that while social media can be beneficial for many teens, those on the high and low ends of use had negative outcomes with it.

As a parent of teens, I can see that social media just doesn’t have a positive or negative effect. It has both positive and negative effects. Teens are often more connected and avoid depression through social media, but when they are feeling down, social media can make that much worse. They tend to do stupid things for attention on social media including eating tide pods, threats of violence, inappropriate sexual posts that can later harm them. In fact, the spike in school shootings doesn’t correlate with a rise in availability of guns, but rather with social media.

So the masnick spin on this one isn’t quite accurate, but if you can appropriate something to attack a republican, it works.

That One Guysays:

Defensive much?

Did it ever occur to you that the two senators in question were mentioned not because of what political party they belong to, but rather because of baseless fearmongering engaged in?

Unless you want to act as though the two are one and the same, or a given political party has a stupid claim as part of it’s core platform it is entirely possible to call someone out for saying something stupid that has nothing to do with what political party they’re a member of.


Re: Social Media

While the people mentioned in this particular article are Republicans, there are a number of Democrats this could also apply to based on coverage in other articles, like Biden and Warren. People on both sides of the aisle have been arguing that social media and/or video games are harmful for kids, even if they have no evidence of that whatsoever or the facts directly contradict them. This isn?t a criticism aimed solely at Republicans but at anyone who whines ?think of the children? as justification for imposing more regulation or whatnot on social media and/or video games or just to fearmonger over something they don?t understand.


As someone who, while growing up, was berated for and told that playing too many video games, being into Pokemon, and reading too much (seriously) was bad for me, I already knew none of that was bad for kids (and by extension social media and other "new" things). But it’s nice to be able to have some actual scientific evidence to come back with when I get into disagreements with people over it.


Information without evidence.

Curiously, before social media it was worse. Newspapers and TV could (and did) say whatever they wanted, and ghosts, Satan, the Loch Ness Monster, Alien UFOs (not to be confused with things we never actually identify but are probably normal).

In the 80s, flat earthers also had hollow earther brethren. Homeopathics was still regarded as science. Nancy Reagan consulted astrological charts and advised President Ronald Reagan based on her findings. Vulcan was believed to be a planet perpetually behind the sun. Some UFOlogists actually believed themselves to be abducted and probed. Oh and Satan had (according to believers) a secret industrial syndicate ten times that of the Roman Catholic Church.

So much pseudoscience was annihilated by the internet. Curiously, we have new WTF phenomena that isn’t fully explained. The Bloop was only recently determined to be (probably) glacial scraping. YouTube is full of what in the name of all that is holy is *this!? videos.

For those of us who learned to be skeptical, it takes only a few minutes to look up (say on Wikipedia) how sensible it is. Granted, there are alternative sources that will affirm pseudoscience, but it’s possible to establish which are which with a modicum of research.

Flat Earthers and Anti-Vaxers are likely in it for the identity and belonging (much like 9/11 truthers), not because they’re compelled by evidence but because it gives them a sense of belonging. It’s religion lite.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Finish your thoughts, Uriel ;P

"I was wondering why I hadn’t seen any op-eds by ghosts, Satan, aliens, and Loch Ness in the paper."

Well, according to various US churches Satan wrote op-eds in the papers every day and quite a few conspiracy theorists were outspoken about the Grays actually owning the papers.

Nessie and messages from the other side, though, never got to the frontpage in any capacity which is manifestly unfair.


Re: Information without evidence.

I don’t think it was worse – but it sure wasn’t a helluva lot better. See, before the Information Superhighway for most people most news arrived through a specific channel that carried a certain mark – you could read Reuter-stamped news that was assumed to be mostly factual or you could read tabloids and be aware that they are considered… well, a lot less factual. Your choice – and a conscientious one. Unfortunately, once the Internet strolled in and anyone had unlimited access to any information they sough the concept of "trustfulness" of said information somehow fell completely out of view.

Perhaps this merits some explanation – contrary to the standard theory of information where you have one bit of data that can be objectively true or false, as far as I’m concerned there’s an inseparable extra quality to ANY single bit of data, ranging continuously from 0 to 1, describing how much you trust it (which changes every time that single bit of information gets transferred from host to host). Again, unfortunately, there is no such concept associated with raw information today – people simply choose to trust whatever they like hearing, with the concept of truthfulness getting blurred to naught because hardly any source of "news" on the internet has a reliable trust score associated with it – especially not social media. Unconsciously, people assign high trust to information obtained from their peers that would otherwise warrant hardly anything above "exceedingly poor" in any objective survey.

Not sure what the solution is, but formalizing the concept that there is NO such thing as an objective bit of information (without some degree of subjective trust associated to it) sounds like a good start. The sooner it becomes standard knowledge that it’s pointless to discuss anything without also considering how much we trust it (and potentially why) is pointless, the better. There’s no such thing as "but I they just said in the news…!" argument anymore – you can boost believability of a piece of data by referring to a news source with a high trust coefficient, or (preferably) by critical reasoning and citing sources of, well, a high trust coefficient. We need to understand that "but cousin Vinnie said" (the same thing as "I just read on Facebook") carries (or at least SHOULD carry) the trust value of basically zero to anybody else…


Re: Re: Information without evidence.

"See, before the Information Superhighway"

The internet is not like a superhighway.

A highway hundreds of lanes wide. Most with pitfalls for potholes. Privately operated bridges and overpasses. No highway patrol. A couple of rent-a-cops on bicycles with broken whistles. 500 member vigilante posses with nuclear weapons. A minimum of 237 on ramps at every intersection. No signs. Wanna get to Ensenada? Holler out the window at a passing truck to ask directions. Ad hoc traffic laws. Some lanes would vote to make use by a single-occupant- vehicle a capital offense on Monday through Friday between 7:00 and 9:00. Other lanes would just shoot you without a trial for talking on a car phone.



Anagrams of "information superhighway"

  • A rough whimper of insanity.
  • Enormous hairy pig with fan.
  • Hey, ignoramus — win profit? Ha!
  • Hi-ho! Yow! I’m surfing Arpanet!
  • I’m on a huge wispy rhino fart.
  • Inspiring humanity, who go far.
  • New utopia? Horrifying sham.
  • Oh, wormy, infuriating phrase.
  • Oh-oh, wiring snafu: empty air.
  • When forming, utopia’s hairy.

All very apt in different ways…


Re: Re:

everyone. sorry only a portion of what i wrote posted. Any media turns a large majority of kids and adults alike into zombies. you could drive a semi through my house when my kids are on any device and they wouldn’t notice. they won’t speak to each other or acknowledge each other in any way and that goes for all of their friends. if that isn’t harmful then i just don’t get it.

now im not saying it hurts your eyes or makes you depressed or whatever the new outrage is today but to me it clearly has some issues that should not be so easily dismissed. we’ve been studying this for ten years now? im sure we’ve figured it all out……..

if being a musician can rewrite how your brain works surely a healthy dose of social media can have some impact on how we think/behave

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

It certainly does. When I use social media it looks a lot like my posts here. Sometimes I get into conversation with people; at other times I’m just laughing along with something funny. It’s definitely social. It’s at its best when people are interacting with each other rather than merely reacting to something.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

You?re having a twoway (or more) communication regarding thoughts, feelings, moods, information, gossip, rumors, opinions, current events, interests, experiences, occupations, etc. among peers in society. There is a lot of nuance involved, people often use casual language while speaking more formally at other times, there are certain rules of etiquette to be followed, and people form and break friendships. People have varying degrees of emotional investment in and feedback from interactions on social media based on how people respond. Some people get bullied, stalked, disturbed, harassed, emotionally abused, broken hearts, etc., but they also receive comfort, congratulations, appreciation, validation, emotional (and sometimes other) support, allies, friendships, good advice, etc. In addition to communicating through words, people use other methods (emojis, images, gifs, videos, ?likes?, etc.) to communicate, some of which only make sense if you?re part of the group. Communications can be (mostly) private between two people, limited to friends or members of a particular group, or made public to everyone. People form and join or get kicked out of groups for solidarity, like interests, or to create a clique or something like that. People learn to trust some people and not others. People make plans for parties, get-togethers, and other events. People get to know each other, learn more, have discussions and arguments, and hang out.

That sure sounds like it has all the necessary elements of social interaction and then some. Just about everything I just described can also be applied in some fashion to in-person social interactions. Maybe not every use of social media is social interaction, but a lot of it is. And maybe there are some differences, but there are a lot of different kinds of social interactions, like over the phone or through snail mail (think pen pals). That it?s a different kind of social interaction doesn?t inherently make interaction via social media any less of a social interaction than in-person socializing.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Starting with the one-liner to call everyone "morons" definitely helped your case there.

Never mind that where I am the most obnoxious phone social media users aren’t the kids, Baby Shark and all. It’s the adults who have no concept of inside voice, sharing anti-vaxx sites and overplayed motivational slideshows at the top of their mobile phone volume settings (because "fuck headphones", and their hearing impairments haven’t helped either).

If anything, phones and social media are damaging the adults for making sure they’re always reachable by work, always corralled by their herd to drink whatever kool-aid is sent by their obnoxious elders, always terrified of not keeping up with the times. The kids will survive because they’re not so self-assured from years of "experience" to be that self-entitled and obnoxious.


Re: Re: Re:

Thank you. I can now respond appropriately.

Yes, I have kids. And one of them already likes to play video games with me and knows the basics of how touchscreens work. None of them have demonstrated "zombie" tendencies.

Any media turns a large majority of kids and adults alike into zombies.

No, it doesn’t. There is no evidence to suggest this is true, as shown in the research quoted in this article.

you could drive a semi through my house when my kids are on any device and they wouldn’t notice.

You can say that about any activity that consumes someone’s entire attention, such as but not limited to: reading, sports, scientific research, listening to music, playing music, etc…

they won’t speak to each other or acknowledge each other in any way and that goes for all of their friends.

See above but also this says more about the parents than the kids.

if that isn’t harmful then i just don’t get it.

You’re right, you don’t get it. I spent most of my early childhood with my nose buried in books, ignoring most everything that went on around me, like a "zombie". When I got older I discovered video games and then I spent most of my free time with my nose buried in books AND playing video games for multiple hours a day. I’ve experienced no ill effects from my those activities in my childhood. In fact, they’ve actually helped me land a great job which I thoroughly enjoy and am quite good at, meet and marry a wonderful spouse, and have some amazing kids.

now im not saying it hurts your eyes or makes you depressed or whatever the new outrage is today but to me it clearly has some issues that should not be so easily dismissed

And those issues are, what? They cause violence? That’s been studied and found to be false as well. In fact, there have been studies done that show instances of video games promoting better life skills (time management, finance management, critical thinking, hand eye coordination, multi-tasking, etc…) Again, the research quoted in this very article says you’re wrong.

we’ve been studying this for ten years now? im sure we’ve figured it all out……..

If you think 10 years is enough time to understand super complex interactions and how something will affect billions of different people, then you just prove you have no idea what you are talking about.

Regardless, it’s been being studied longer than that, and no, it’s not "all figured out", but some things they have learned is that media, and video games specifically, is not automatically "bad". How you consume it is more impactful than the media itself. And that applies to anything: sports, work, alcohol, etc…

if being a musician can rewrite how your brain works surely a healthy dose of social media can have some impact on how we think/behave

Yes, it can. That doesn’t mean that rewriting your brain is inherently bad. Or are you saying all music should be banned because it rewrites your brain?


Re: Re: Re:

Any media turns a large majority of kids and adults alike into zombies. you could drive a semi through my house when my kids are on any device and they wouldn’t notice. they won’t speak to each other or acknowledge each other in any way and that goes for all of their friends. if that isn’t harmful then i just don’t get it.

That also applies to reading books/magazines/newspapers/comics/graphic novels/manga, watching TV/movies, playing with toys by yourself, drawing/painting, writing, working?. I fail to see how video games or social media are inherently more harmful than many other activities that are considered benign or healthy.

Additionally, the way people communicate changes over time and can differ among people and cultures. Social media can be a perfectly fine way to socialize, as can video games. Unless you have evidence that socializing face-to-face is inherently better than via text, over a phone, or through social media, I see no inherent harm to the behavior you describe, especially when compared to reading a book, watching TV, or playing by yourself. It may look like they aren?t being social, but that doesn?t mean they?re not actually socializing in some manner.

now im not saying it hurts your eyes or makes you depressed or whatever the new outrage is today but to me it clearly has some issues that should not be so easily dismissed. we’ve been studying this for ten years now? im sure we’ve figured it all out……..

Again, I?m not seeing any inherent harms from video games or social media that are any different from the inherent harms in any other form of communication or entertainment.

Plus, I mean, it took a lot longer for people to realize how harmful a lot of things were for children, as well as how harmless other things were; like, centuries longer. 10 years is a good start, but there?re a lot of things that took longer than 10 years to understand, and some we still don?t fully understand. Psychology and sociology are both very complicated subjects with a lot of nuance, and there?s a lot we don?t understand about seemingly basic aspects of each even after a lot of people doing a lot of research on them over the course of many, many years. To say we?ve already ?figured it all out? in ten years is being unrealistic. We can understand a great deal about social media and video games, including some of how they affect thought, mood, behavior, and the brain. But we certainly don?t understand it fully. There are many studies being done in the fields of pediatrics, neurology, psychology, and sociology all the time, many of which center around the effects of video games and/or social media. We?re constantly learning new things, and that will likely continue for many years to come.

if being a musician can rewrite how your brain works surely a healthy dose of social media can have some impact on how we think/behave

Undoubtedly. For example, while this isn?t social media, it has been discovered that people who grew up playing Pok?mon have developed a specialized region of the brain devoted solely to recognizing each of the hundreds of species of Pok?mon, much like how most people (including these test subjects) have a specialized region of the brain devoted solely to recognizing human faces, and this hasn?t occurred in people who haven?t grown up playing Pok?mon. So the idea that social media could have some sort of effect on how one?s brain works is incredibly likely, almost certain even. But then, just about everything does. The questions are what effect(s) it has, how strong the effect(s) is/are, how that scales with the amount of exposure and age (among other factors), and whether the effects are helpful, harmful, and/or neutral, and it what capacity. Going back to the Pok?mon example, this specialized region almost certainly has no negative effects; it?s not it shoves any other particular capabilities or knowledge out of the way to make room. It?s just an added skill that they have; this effect is completely benign.

So again, unless there?s a study that shows a deleterious effect from social media on the brain, I?m unconvinced that there?s any reason for concern. Like I?ve said, the effects of neurological changes are nuanced and still not entirely well understood. These things take time. Currently, there is no evidence that social media (or video games) are inherently harmful to people in general or children in particular, and pretty much all of the major concerns (depression, reduced eyesight or other damage to the eyes, increased violence) have been disproven. As such, I?m not particularly concerned about whether or not there is any particular issue with social media or video games. There are some exceptions (microtransactions and loot boxes in video games, privacy), but even then there are similar concerns outside of social media and video games.


so if there's no strong link to depression or anxiety everything

is fine? and this is scientfic? seriously? So apart from the ever increasing surveilance, the continuous occurrence of data leaks and the "social" media, that doesn’t forget anything stupid those kids say or write today, that can always be used against them as leverage in the future… And this is the takeaway? Those "scientists" didn’t even bother to use the entire ICD catalog of mental and behavioral disorders but created a statistic over only 40! studies and only checked for strong links to anxiety or depression…
The approach in itself is ludicrously narrow, shortsighted and completely missing the big picture and long term effects. Have they been paid by Zuckerberg?



There are other studies out there that address other facets of social media.

So apart from the ever increasing surveilance, the continuous occurrence of data leaks and the "social" media, that doesn’t forget anything stupid those kids say or write today, that can always be used against them as leverage in the future

That’s not really related to "just using it" on a daily or semi-regular basis. Those are definitely concerns but surveillance and data leaks really doesn’t have any bearing on how logging into social media and communicating with people on it affects your mental state.

The approach in itself is ludicrously narrow,

As it should be when you are studying one specific thing.

shortsighted and completely missing the big picture

The other factors you state are not related to how regular social media use affects your mental state. Yes they are concerning but they have no relevance in this.

and long term effects.

I believe that’s what they studied.


Re: so if there's no strong link to depression or anxiety everyt

I don?t think you understand how scientific studies work. In general, they are supposed to be narrowly focused. This is especially true for metastudies, where they compile multiple studies over something specific and draw a conclusion based on the accumulated data on that specific issue. That you would want other issues to be addressed is immaterial to this particular study over this particular question. A lot of scientific studies are meant to answer one particular question, not every question a person might have. That?d be ridiculous. It?s generally preferred to have multiple studies that focus on specific questions.

And, I mean, things like ?the ever increasing surveilance? and ?the continuous occurrence of data leaks? aren?t exactly things you?d expect a psychologist, neurologist, or sociologist to study, anyway, and the former extends far, far beyond social media.

the "social" media, that doesn’t forget anything stupid those kids say or write today, that can always be used against them as leverage in the future…

That would be a very, very different issue. This is studying whether use of social media, with all of its aspects, has a strong correlation with depression and/or anxiety disorders. This isn?t about studying the effects of particular aspects of social media; it?s about social media as a whole.

Those "scientists" didn’t even bother to use the entire ICD catalog of mental and behavioral disorders but created a statistic over only 40! studies and only checked for strong links to anxiety or depression…

Like I said, that?s pretty standard for scientific studies. This study was only meant to check for strong links to anxiety or depression, and it only draws conclusions about those particular disorders. When people were checking the claim that vaccines cause autism (which, for the record, has now been studied thoroughly and found to be false), they weren?t also checking for anxiety or depression because that?s an entirely different question.

Also, a lot of mental and behavioral disorders are believed to be primarily caused by genetics, hormones, drugs, and/or severe trauma, not by general behaviors and such. Many would be very unlikely to be caused by social media use (like ADHD or autism, which are pretty much there from birth). There was no particular reason to check for every possible diagnosis in this study.

The approach in itself is [?] completely missing the [?] long term effects.

Actually, I?m pretty sure this was a study into long term effects of social media use, specifically on the prevalence of depression and/or anxiety disorders. Again, that it doesn?t cover all of the specific possible effects you?re concerned with or doesn?t give you the result you want or expected is immaterial. Studies are generally very narrow. If you?re expecting a single scientific study to address every concern you may possibly have about social media use, then you?re sadly mistaken. That?s not how science works. Science is about performing multiples studies, each on a particular issue, over and over and over again, sometimes with varying methodologies, verifying each study, then looking at all the data as a whole to draw conclusions.


Tech is harming us all

Holy shit guys were are all getting harmed by tech. All of us. We are so screwed. You have highly educated people addicted to their phones and just don’t wanna admit how tech has REPROGRAMMED us all and not all for the better.

But hey just keep staring into your endless social media feed as we descend closer to hell LOL.

I’m NOT advocating any laws get drafted. Once something is invented it exists.

But stop saying this stuff isn’t harmful. Take two weeks off from tech and see how you feel and act. You won’t wanna come back.

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Tech is harming us all

I have taken two weeks off from tech. It happens when I go on holiday and am too busy being a tourist to get into arguments in tech blog comment threads.

When I got home and went back to work I signed back in again.

Social media isn’t endless, it’s just social. It’s how you use it that counts; are you constantly glued to your phone, zombiing around half aware of what is going on around you or do you limit your usage to when you’re not supposed to be working, etc.? It’s only endless if you can’t keep your eyes off it.

Litmus test: Is it all about you or is it all about finding out what’s going on?

For me, it’s all about what’s going on. I rarely take selfies and what I ate for dinner last night is not for discussion. Okay, it was salad.



But stop saying this stuff isn’t harmful.

Well, that’s because by itself it isn’t. A hammer isn’t harmful until you use it to bash someone’s head in. Tech is no different.

Take two weeks off from tech and see how you feel and act. You won’t wanna come back.

If I did that I would likely be suffering from severe depression, malnutrition, anxiety, PTSD, and who knows how many other things because I can’t do my job without tech. Therefore I would likely be fired, lose my home, not be able to feed my family, be living on the streets and possibly even dead because I wouldn’t be able to buy food.

Your argument is invalid, stupid and severely misinformed.


"people addicted to their phones"

People were addicted to phones long before they were smartphones.

And people were addicted to newspapers, and there was a moral panic about that.

Tech advancements and society shifts always cause disruption and yes, there are always drawbacks. Less the skull horns or the brain damage and more the increases of phone-related driving accidents, waves of phone theft, malware-in-apps and so on. And as with all tech, we remedy these problems with time.

But in the meantime, I grew up with all my hobbies being topics of moral panics, thank you, and am not going to suffer them now when the new kids have new culture and new media to panic over. We’ve seen this bullshit before and it still stinks.


Re: Tech is harming us all

That some people abuse it doesn?t make the tech itself inherently harmful.

People can be addicted to just about anything. People can be addicted to reading books, shopping, eating, whatever. That doesn?t make the activity itself inherently harmful.

No one is saying that any technology in particular is all helpful or all harmful; it just is. How we use that tech is what?s important.

Just about every activity or event, particularly if repeated over and over again, ?reprograms? you in the sense that it has some sort of effect on your brain, mood, and/or behavior. Social media and video games (or any other activity) aren?t particularly unusual in that respect. Nor is there any evidence that any of the ?reprogramming? is inherently harmful, at least moreso than just about anything else.

No one?s saying that tech has no possibility of harm. The issue is that, compared to any other form of entertainment, communication, social interaction, education, etc., it?s not any more inherently harmful to one?s mental or emotional health nor inherently more likely to lead to unhealthy behavior(s). In short, it?s not particularly and inherently harmful in general, relatively speaking.

Regarding my use of social media, to be honest, I rarely use it. In fact, outside of an initial burst of activity, I don?t think I?ve really used any of my social media accounts more than, like, once a month. But that?s not really due to a conscious decision on my part, or because I ever felt troubled by how I used social media. I just never really got into it. Sure, I?ll share the occasional video or view a photo someone posted every now and then, but that?s about it. Outside of the obvious fact that I spend less time on social media now than I did at the start but more than before I got started, there hasn?t really been any discernible change in my mood or my behavior at all that could be correlated with how much I used social media.

As for tech in general, there were occasions where I was unable to use tech for extended periods of time. This was terribly unfortunate because I study computer science. That said, my behavior didn?t really change except that I actually socialized less (I had less to talk about and couldn?t interact with people online), shifted from reading on my phone/computer or playing video games to reading books and manga (which was basically what I spend most of my time on my phone doing anyways), stopped watching anything, and basically just writing math and programming on paper instead of my phone or computer. I might have also gotten bored easier since the supply of reading material I had on hand was far more limited in quantity and diversity than what I could access online, and that might have made me more irritable. So, really, not much actually changed, and what did change wasn?t really for the better. I?m an introvert and hate the outdoors by nature. I was like that long before I watched TV with any regularity (which I no longer do, anyways) or had a computer, mobile phone, MP3 player, internet connection, or anything capable of playing video games. If anything, I do a lot more different things now that I have all of these things available and socialize a lot more than I ever had when I didn?t, which was basically just read books and mostly tune out everyone and everything else.

Seriously, not everyone suddenly becomes happier or social butterflies when they don?t have these sorts of modern technology. Some people aren?t really all that social to begin with and may actually find it easier to communicate with people they?ve never met than with people they see every day. Heck, some people find it easier to communicate with people in person by finding something online or in a video game that they find interesting and then talking about that. And some people just don?t communicate much at all, tech or no tech.

In my life, I?ve found tech to be more help than harm. I get more social interaction than I would otherwise (in person or otherwise), have more fun, generally have a better mood, work and study more efficiently, get more varied entertainment, get bored less often, deal with unpleasant issues better, and learn more. It?s also really helpful when it comes to organizing things and communicating with others when it comes to stuff going on outside the house (like school or parties).

That?s not the case for everyone, and some people do get an unhealthy addiction to certain tech, but then the same can be said for a lot of things. That doesn?t make the technology inherently harmful any more than the fact that some people are allergic to peanuts and some get addicted to reading books or newspapers (sometimes unhealthily) means that peanuts, books, or newspapers are inherently harmful. Different people have different reactions, and context is key.

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