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Social Media Drives Girls Mad

By Dr John Sydenham.

The latest news shows that the owners of Facebook and Instagram know that Instagram is shockingly bad for mental health yet continue to promote it.  Their own research shows that 13% of British users could trace their suicidal thoughts to Instagram: an eighth of Instagram users are driven to contemplate suicide because of the platform. It will be shown below that the problem is not just Instagram but applies to most social media "platforms".

The huge problem here is that social media cannot be ignored by children.  If they refuse to join in they become social outcasts.  This is clearly a problem where governments must regulate.

NHS figures show that almost a quarter of 17 to 19 year old girls in the UK suffer from emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. 

NHS Mental Health of Children 2017

These disorders are thought to be more the result of environmental influences rather than genetics (see "Generalised anxiety disorder" below).

The frequency of emotional mental illness in the young is rising.  The NHS graph below does not include the 17-19 age group and does not separate males and females but shows that emotional disorders are rising:

If the 5-15 year old girls are separated using the raw data there is a 62% increase over the past 18 years:

The effect would probably be greater if data were available for 17-19 year olds.

The major cause of this illness is well known and it is getting worse:

Increases in Depression, Self‐Harm, and Suicide Among U.S. Adolescents After 2012 and Links to Technology Use: Possible Mechanisms

The cause of this terrible unhappiness and distress is largely social media.  The NHS data showed that the poor were more likely to be affected and suggested that this induced mental illness made sufferers more likely to turn to alcohol, smoking and drug use.

It is interesting that we will shut down our entire economy for a disease such as COVID19 but not lift a finger to help our children.  The big tech companies are literally driving our children mad but nothing is done.  It is sadly the case that for every research paper that identifies the problem the big tech companies will support (indirectly) a study or review to obfuscate the problem.  This is all reminiscent of what happened when smoking was being identified as the source of lung cancer or the adverse effects of the broadcast media were identified.

There is evidence that the epidemic of emotional mental illness is affecting young women in general as is shown in this graph of prevalence of experiencing any common mental health disorder (CMD) in the past week, by age, males and females, England, 2014:

Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014

The media claim that everything will be all right with the world so long as we get our ID politics "correct" is not supported by the NHS data, it being unclear whether the rise in sexual awareness due to media exposure would exacerbate or cure the problem of emotional mental illness:

What can be done

Western societies are increasingly falling under control by the media.  Control of the media, especially social media, is a responsibility of the Government.  The media are profit making companies and, without control, will sell whatever makes them money.  Politicians are terrified of offending media corporations from the old mass media to the new social media but if they do not introduce regulations the media corporations will seriously damage our mental health and society in general. The media corporations will offer piecemeal changes to divert regulation but only the control measures outlined below will stop this menace.

The first step in dealing with this problem is a National Firewall.  It should be possible for the government to simply turn off Internet access to the UK by companies and countries that are criminal or are threats to our security and health.  As the Internet of Things (remote control of electronic devices) grows a National Firewall will be of paramount importance to state security.  A National Firewall provides the Government with a powerful tool to regulate foreign Internet publishers.

The second step is to get rid of the idea of Internet "Platforms".  Companies that host literary works are publishers.  They should have no special exemptions because they use electronic publishing.

The third step is to encourage UK versions of Google, Facebook etc. (including Google UK, Facebook UK etc) so that there are alternatives.  There is ample evidence that corporations such as Google and Twitter are routinely "shadow banning" for their own political ends, this involves deliberately manipulating search results and "platform" membership to interfere in politics. Foreign control of UK politics is completely unacceptable. The load speed of sites based overseas can be steadily reduced to make them uncompetitive.

Lastly the BBC should be given a Charter that truly mandates it to be unbiased.  This means not omitting the parts of stories that offend the rarefied political sensibilities of BBC staff.  A National Broadcaster that sympathises with the people of the UK could be a huge asset.

15/9/2021

See: 

Is Twitter a Menace?


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