Social Media Contributing to Mental Illness Epidemic in Teen Girls
“Teens were already socially distanced by 2019, which might explain why COVID restrictions added little to their rates of mental illness, on average.”
Anyone who has spent any time looking at videos on TikTok knows this is true.
Jon Haidt writes at Substack:
Social Media is a Major Cause of the Mental Illness Epidemic in Teen Girls. Here’s the Evidence.
A big story last week was the partial release of the CDC’s bi-annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which showed that most teen girls (57%) now say that they experience persistent sadness or hopelessness (up from 36% in 2011), and 30% of teen girls now say that they have seriously considered suicide (up from 19% in 2011). Boys are doing badly too, but their rates of depression and anxiety are not as high, and their increases since 2011 are smaller. As I showed in my Feb. 16 Substack post, the big surprise in the CDC data is that COVID didn’t have much effect on the overall trends, which just kept marching on as they have since around 2012. Teens were already socially distanced by 2019, which might explain why COVID restrictions added little to their rates of mental illness, on average. (Of course, many individuals suffered greatly).
Most of the news coverage last week noted that the trends pre-dated covid, and many of them mentioned social media as a potential cause. A few of them then did the standard thing that journalists have been doing for years, saying essentially “gosh, we just don’t know if it’s social media, because the evidence is all correlational and the correlations are really small.” For example, Derek Thompson, one of my favorite data-oriented journalists, wrote a widely read essay in The Atlantic on the multiplicity of possible causes. In a section titled Why is it so hard to prove that social media and smartphones are destroying teen mental health? he noted that “the academic literature on social media’s harms is complicated” and he then quoted one of the main academics studying the issue—Jeff Hancock, of Stanford University: “There’s been absolutely hundreds of [social-media and mental-health] studies, almost all showing pretty small effects.”
In this post, I will show that Thompson’s skepticism was justified in 2019 but is not justified in 2023. A lot of new work has been published since 2019, and there has been a recent and surprising convergence among the leading opponents in the debate (including Hancock and me). There is now a great deal of evidence that social media is a substantial cause, not just a tiny correlate, of depression and anxiety, and therefore of behaviors related to depression and anxiety, including self-harm and suicide.
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‘Social Media is a Major Cause of the Mental Illness Epidemic in Teen Girls.”
By “mental illness epidemic,” are we including the trans craze, or… too soon?
“Thompson’s skepticism was justified in 2019 but is not justified in 2023.”
Speaking of correlation, that correlates extremely well with CCP TikTok, no?
This is interesting to me. I have been watching the trans thing for a while (about 25 years, actually, since I met a young man in 1997 who had been born a girl and fully transitioned; he was a one-off in my mind). I have had many friends who have had to deal with the situation in their families, and it is hard watching them struggle.
The other day my daughter was telling me about a girl in her church youth group. The girl, M, was saying she is not a girl or a boy. She is not sure what she is.
This was a lightbulb moment for me. M does not feel like a boy because SHE IS NOT ONE. But neither does she fit the role society is telling her a girl must fit: she is not into looking like a KarTrashian, She is not into spending hours a day on her hair and makeup and bosom/butt. Knowing her family, it would not surprise me if there is some abuse going on, so maybe she does not want to be solely an object of a man’s lust.
So yes, I think social media is a BIG HUGE part of the problem for girls – to be a modern, young female is to be sexualized, and that is damaging to the psyche.
Knowing her family, it would not surprise me if there is some abuse going on
The full court press by the media to normalize this is skewing the numbers due to the social contagion effect, which teen girls are extremely vulnerable to. Prior to the recent explosion in trans lunacy, 95% of men and effectively 100% of women with sexual dysmorphia so severe they sought surgical to alleviate the symptoms were serially sexually abused as children or adolescents. The dysmorphia is a self-destructive coping mechanism no different from drugs, alchohol, cutting, tattoos or piercings.
The breakdown of the family, the lack of a protective biological father in the home, society’s early sexualization of children, the explosion in sexual dysmorphia (both real and fashionable) – it’s all connected.
This is better put on the front page. It’s very important.