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Is social media bad for us?

I do not think we can eliminate social media in our lives but I do feel that it is important to protect ourselves and ou...

In October 2021 a top (former) Facebook employee testified that Facebook has a dangerous amount of influence on over 3 billion people and that social media (most of the popular apps are owned by Facebook) are having a harmful effect on society.

The context behind the concerns is that 88%+ of facebooks revenues come from mobile advertising; that means we see ads on our feed when using our phones and make decisions as a result. The incentive for Facebook is for us to spend more and more time on their sites so that they can show us more ads and make more money as a result. Young people spend an average of 8 hours a day on their phones and so, if social media was dangerous, we would see the results in this group most vividly. What does the research show? 

Facebook's own internal research shows that the rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among teenagers are linked to the quantity of time spent on social media. “Facebook knows that they are leading young users to harmful content” - Frances Haugen (former Facebook employee). 

According to several ex-employees - young people are being targeted with content that includes toxic messaging about body image. The issue is the lack of control over what kids are being exposed to and how their minds are being manipulated. 

Personally, I am confused at how any content which is copy-written is immediately blocked yet people can post and send racist, harassing, or unsolicited messages. 

Facebook claims these platforms have given kids the space to connect, but according to press reports, a survey conducted by Facebook found that approximately 13.5 % of teenage girls said the platform worsened suicidal thoughts, and 17 % said it contributed to an eating disorder.

  • Experts say parents don’t need to ban their kids from using social media altogether, but it’s worth setting limits about how to use these platforms.

  • Parents should regularly check in with their kids about their social media experiences and keep an eye out for any changes in their behavior.

  • While some kids can tolerate more time on social media, some children are negatively affected within as little as 5 minutes.

  • Have a central location where all phones can charge at night.

Conclusions

I have personally experienced the pros and cons of being on social media. On one hand, it’s helped me connect with like-minded people, helped create opportunities for collaboration, and helped me reach new audiences however: it has exposed me to cyberbullying, addictive behaviors related to social media use and has robbed me of thousands of hours that I could have spent with my family. 

I do not think we can eliminate social media in our lives but I do feel that it is important to protect ourselves and our families by putting systems in place, to ensure we get the benefits without as much harm. 

Check out Dr. Harbir's new podcast where he interviews Sikhs of interest: https://bit.ly/3FWEGDZ

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