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Social media and kids: What parents need to know

 May 3, 2023 at 2:30 PM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on KPBS. Today , we are talking about social media and the mental health of kids. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired and make you think. There's a mental health crisis facing students. Psychologists are connecting the dots on why.

S2: The average age to start using social media has moved younger and younger and younger , and that clearly isn't safe.

S1: Plus , two San Diego County school districts filed a lawsuit against social media. Companies will tell you what they're asking for. And we will continue the conversation with the student to get their perspective on social media and mental health. That's ahead on Midday Edition. On Tuesday , a bipartisan pair of senators reintroduced the Kids Online Safety Act to the Senate. The bill looks to add online protections for children and comes during a youth mental health crisis. A separate bill was introduced last week. That one is looking to ban children under the age of 13 from social media. These are just the latest efforts from lawmakers to address rising rates of mental health struggles among America's youth. Rates of youth , depression , anxiety and suicidal thoughts have risen over the past decade , and many researchers argue there's a connection to social media use by children , according to the CDC. 57% of teen girls said they felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021. That's nearly a 20% increase from the decade before. The number of teen boys who said the same increased as well , though not as sharply. Jean Twenge , who is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of the book iGen Why Today's Super Connected Kids are Growing up less rebellious , more tolerant , less happy and completely unprepared for adulthood and what that means for the rest of us. She's also got a book out with a much simpler title called Generations. Gene , it's great to have you on Midday Edition.

S2: Thank you.


S2: We also know that there have been huge increases in anxiety and depression and self-harm among teens and young adults since 2012. And that's right around the time that social media use became really ubiquitous among teens in particular.

S1: Several studies have identified impacts on girls in young women.

S2: So girls spend more time on social media and then the time that they do spend is more linked to depression , probably because of things like cyberbullying and also a lot of the pressures around body image and appearance that come up on social media , particularly on Instagram and TikTok.


S2: It's just not quite as strong. But still , you think about it , if they're spending , say , five hours a day on social media , then they're probably not sleeping enough. They're probably not spending enough time with friends face to face. They may not be getting enough exercise. So there's impacts on all teens.



S2: Know , when thinking about teens , it's just a time when social life and time with friends is so central and social media makes popularity and status a number. How many followers do you have ? How many likes do you have ? And it also just really takes that socialization and puts it online because it used to be when teens wanted to communicate with each other , they would get together face to face. And that's much better for mental health than sitting and scrolling through Instagram , seeing all the things that people are doing without you. Hmm.

S1: Hmm.

S2: So around 2012 , so teen depression doubled between 2011 and 2019. So before the pandemic , we know the pandemic was not the original cause. It's not just that it happened at the same time. It's also that it's tough to think of anything else other than these new technologies that had such a big impact on teens day to day lives that they started spending so much more time on line and so much less time with their friends in person. They also started spending less time sleeping. And that's really crucial for mental health. And it makes sense that the causation goes from spending time online to depression because it was the other way around. If it was depression , going to technologies , we're thinking about these trends over time , it would have to be okay. Teens became depressed for some completely unknown reason , and that caused teens to start spending more time on social media. Like , it doesn't make a lot of sense. Right.

S4: Right.

S1: I mean , even just you know , we're talking about smartphones and every time it pings or dings , you're looking down at it. And it's become like the main thing that causes us to multitask. And I would imagine that even that might have an impact on one's mental health. Always multitasking. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. That you feel like you're always on. So teens talk about that quite a bit. And then social media in particular , the algorithms are much more sophisticated now and they're designed to keep people on the app for as long as possible and with notifications in particular , keep them coming back as much as possible. So that's one reason why people talk about social media using the language of addiction , even though there's still debate over whether we should call it that.

S1: A lot has been made about the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the mental health of young people. But you argue what we're seeing as far as social media and kids really predates COVID.

S2: It absolutely does. So pretty much all the indicators , whether it's clinical level depression , loneliness , self-harm , suicide attempts and those last two are measured by emergency room visits. They're not even just about symptoms. All of those things started to rise in the early 2010 , so more than ten years ago. So yes , there were increases during the pandemic , but they were at about the same pace as had been happening for about a decade. So all this attention to the teen mental health crisis just has to recognize that this is not a pandemic issue. This is something that has been going on for a decade.

S1: And you've studied social media's impact on children for many years. And in that time , social media has evolved so much , platforms have come and gone , new features and trends have taken hold.

S2: And that clearly isn't safe because we know from several studies that the links between social media use and depression are stronger for younger people , so they're stronger for 12 year olds than they are for 18 year olds. And it's now really common for 12 year olds to be on social media , even though the minimum age is supposed to be 13 , it's not enforced.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. This is Jade Hyndman. I'm speaking with author and professor Jean Twenge about social media and kids. So , Gene , in your book Generations , you delve into some of the characteristics of five generations.

S2: And when you see in these big national surveys of teens , is these very sudden changes around 2012. So everybody talked about the increases in loneliness and depression. We also see it in terms of expectations. Teens became a lot more less optimistic about their prospects. As you shift from millennials to Gen Z being the teens. They also started to become a lot more pessimistic about the country as a whole and the world. And that makes sense because depression isn't just about emotions. It's about how you think. It's about how you see things. And when there's more depression , then you're going to get more pessimism and more of a view toward thinking everything is terrible and negative.

S1: And each generation really has a defining moment or event that helps define it. For the silent generation , it was World War two. Millennials had 911. But you say the attention on those particular events doesn't tell the whole story of a generation.

S2: That has some impact , but not as much as technology and technological change. That's what has the biggest impact on what makes it so different to live now compared to 100 years ago or 50 years ago or even 20 years ago ? When I'm talking about technology , I don't just mean the Internet and smartphones and social media. I mean things like better medical care and airplanes and air conditioning and washing machines that have made our lives longer and more comfortable.

S1: I mean , this is a side note here. But , you know , as we talk about generations , I feel like Gen X is often left out of the conversation.

S2: So Gen X , the middle child of generations. It's true now because we're sandwiched between the boomers and the millennials and also just that's where the note happens to the middle child. They tend to get ignored and it's a smaller generation between two larger ones. But I think a lot of it , a lot of Gen Xers tell me they like it that way. They like to fly under the radar. They're maybe not as interested in politics as as boomers or millennials on average , so they may not want to call attention to themselves.

S1: And as we touched on earlier , the pandemic has been a defining period of change for Gen Z.

S2: The good news is , you know , there was a really big fear that suicide rates and rates of self-harm and depression were just going to skyrocket during the pandemic for teens. And that that did not happen. So we still have a mental health crisis , but it didn't accelerate during the pandemic. So that's that's one piece of good news that teams seem to be resilient around a lot of those changes that happened during the pandemic. But we don't know the long term effects. And , you know , this isn't my area of expertise , but I think it's clear that there have been some pretty big effects on learning and there's going to be some big learning deficits going forward.

S1: The use of screen time and social media are top of mind for a lot of parents.

S2: I have three kids myself. They are 16 , 13 and 11. So this is my everyday life as well as something that I research. And I really think that we need to raise the minimum age for social media to 16 and that that includes TikTok. Hopefully that'll happen if our politicians can take action. They've done that in Utah. For now , though , as parents were stuck because we don't have much regulation of social media , it's very unregulated. You can easily lie about your age. You don't need parental permission. So it's tough. So one thing that helps is to delay getting your kid a full blown smartphone as long as possible. So our 16 year old had a flip phone until a month ago. Our 13 year old has something called a gab phone. Very few functions. You can text , you can call , you can take pictures. That's it. So there's no ability to be able to download social media apps. And even for a 16 year old , even though she does have a smartphone now , we put parental controls on it , so she can't download apps without parental permission. So then at least there's not an ability for her to download social media apps and get an account on her phone.

S1: And kids are not the only ones addicted to the social networks and digital devices. Many parents are too.

S2: And we have so much data on this from sleep lab studies that people do not sleep as well. When the phones in the room , especially when it's within arm's reach , which is most where most people keep it when they're sleeping. So get the phones out of the bedroom and put them on a charger downstairs or away from the bedrooms overnight. And the usual objection. I hear this is. But I have to have my phone in my bedroom overnight because it's my alarm clock. Well , I have some advice for you. Buy an alarm clock.

S1: And be as simple as that , huh ? All right.

S2: So maybe take them out of the equation and then focus on how can we make it better for adults. So moving away from this model where companies are making money off of our time and attention would be nice. The apps have a right to exist , especially for adults , but perhaps not have those algorithms that mean that they draw people in and keep them there. Let people reset their accounts so if they start , you know , looking up diet advice and it ends up veering into pro anorexia stuff that they can reset that.

S1: Earlier , you mentioned the idea of preventing kids under 16 from using social media.

S2: They can do a group chat. There's lots of other ways.


S2: You know , I'm not I'm not going to say it's easy to know. Phones in the bedroom overnight is like the only thing that is sort of easy. The rest of it is harder. You know , kids have school laptops. You can't put parental controls on a school laptop. A lot of them have YouTube on it. So , you know , this is a day to day struggle for everybody. And I do think it helps to know if you're a parent struggling with this , you are not the only one.

S1: Jean Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of the book Generations. Jean , thank you so much for joining us today.

S5: You're very welcome.

S1: We'd love to hear how social media is impacting the children and teens in your life. Call us at (619) 452-0228 and leave a message. Coming up to San Diego County. School districts have filed a lawsuit against social media companies.

S6: The school districts are asking essentially to be reimbursed for the costs that they are currently incurring that they've never before had to incur to treat the mental health illnesses that are being caused.

S1: The conversation continues when we come back. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Two San Diego County school districts have filed a lawsuit against social media companies arguing that they are contributing to a mental health crisis among students. Last month , Oceanside and Coronado school districts became among the more than 20 districts across the nation looking to hold major social media companies accountable for negative mental health impacts on children. At Howard is senior counsel and senior policy advocate for the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego. And Ed , welcome.

S6: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.


S6: And those costs include the costs of increased mental health supports for children. And the school districts are also asking for injunctive relief , meaning court orders to for social media platforms to stop doing the things that they know are knowingly causing harm to children. But again , the specific things that the school districts are asking for are to be reimbursed for the cost of hiring additional personnel to address the mental and emotional and social health needs of their children. A security when it comes to threats of violence that are spread throughout social media. They're asking for money to pay for training , for teachers , to identify children who are uniquely suffering during this time of mental health crisis caused by social media companies. They're looking for training to help them identify and treat things like social media , addiction , eating disorders , suicide ideation , all of the things that we know are caused in significant part by social media platforms. You know , when our system , if you make a mess , and especially if you knowingly make the mess , you're properly charged with the cost of cleaning it up. The school districts right now are shouldering a big chunk of this cost and they're asking to be reimbursed for it.


S6: It's a very ancient doctrine. It's the same doctrine that was used successfully to sue lead paint companies , for example. And it's the same idea if you are knowingly creating a problem that hurts large numbers of people under a public nuisance theory , you can you can pay to get reimbursed for the cost of that. But also the school district is specifically asking for an order , quote , abating the public nuisance described above , meaning all of the harms that are knowingly being caused by social media companies to children. And so they're asking that a court order specifically that would require the social media platforms to prioritize taking care of children and not harming them , at least certainly not knowingly harming.

S1: I'd be interested to know what specifically the algorithms are programmed to do to keep the eyes of children online.

S6: So when you when you think about what's being placed in front of the eyes of your children , it's not a human being that's sitting there determining who gets what , when and how. They have told their artificial intelligence go out into this vast , vast , vast sea of data that they have on everybody. Right ? I mean , far richer sources of data available to on monitoring people's behavior than if you were to keep a camera rolling for 24 hours a day , 365 days a week in your homes , go out into this vast sweep of data. Look at what this particular user may have looked at. Or as is increasingly case , look at what users who are similar to this user look at. And then you I go out and write whatever recommendation algorithms will work to keep this particular person's eyes on the screens for as long as humanly possible , no matter what. That's what's happening. That's why when as as repeatedly demonstrated in experiments over and over and over again and by tragic stories embraced that have been become publicly available. That's why if you're a if the if TikTok. Figures out that you're a young teenage girl , which it can do almost instantly when you register. That's why almost instantly. These girls get bombarded with pro eating disorder content. I don't see that. I'm a 50 year old , 58 year old dude. I don't see that stuff. But the reason why you're seeing , especially among teen girls , suicide eating disorder and depression rates going up and up and up is not because they happen to get one picture of a skinny model. They are bombarded with this stuff relentlessly. And it is the I. That is fulfilling its purpose there , because what keeps people riveted more than the things that make them anxious ? Nothing , especially if you're a teenager.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. I'm speaking with Ed Howard from University of San Diego's Children's Advocacy Institute about recent efforts to curb social media's impact on children. And , Ed , in addition to the courts , states have also started passing laws to regulate children's use of social media. In March , Utah passed significant legislation limiting social media use by kids. Tell us about what the two laws they passed are designed to do.

S6: The laws that you're seeing around that are being introduced and passed in some part around the country generally fall into two categories. The first are those laws which seek to expand the ability of parents to control their kids , use of social media and to more vigorously require really some kind of meaningful age verification for for social media. So one of the Utah laws has embraced those requirements. The other kinds of laws that you're seeing across the country and here in California are laws that seek to make social media simply safer in and of in and of itself. Right ? So the law that was passed in Utah in that regard was a law that very closely mirrored a California bill that died in the Senate Appropriations Committee here last year. But that is a bill that holds social media platforms liable when they knowingly or negligently make addicts of children. This is not addicted in the sense of , oh , I really love Yellowstone , I'm addicted to Yellowstone. This is medically diagnosable behavioral addiction. And that law is actually stronger than the California law that ultimately perished here , insofar as it creates a legal presumption that if there is a child who is on a platform and under the age of 16 and got medically addicted , that the platform is the cause of that addiction. And it also , unlike the California bill that perished in the Senate Appropriations Committee last year , allows parents individually to sue to hold social media platforms accountable. So you see another law exactly like that one just recently passed or not exactly like the Utah one , but much more like the California one that died. That bill just passed on a bipartisan vote with no no votes out of its first policy committee in New Jersey. You see , Texas has introduced very significant bills that include holding platforms accountable for the physical harms that they're causing kids. And and if you think about how these laws are approaching the topic , if you think about a park in your neighborhood , you've got kids , you've got a park in your neighborhood that's dangerous. Right ? There's two ways to deal with that , right ? I mean , one of them is to just make the park safe so your kids can run out your front door and play in the park and you don't have to worry about it or think about it. But if you're all worried about or think about it , you think the park's a little dodgy ? Well , what would you do ? Well , you would go with your kid and , you know , watch them to make sure they're okay. Well , that's one of the approaches being taken. And then finally , you've got the approach that was taken in Utah when it comes to TikTok , where the Montana legislature cited the mental health issues that are being caused by TikTok , especially young girls. And they just outlawed it. They just did the equivalent of shutting the park down. So those are really the three buckets of approaches that you're seeing throughout the states , including here in California.

S1: Yeah , I mean , in in California , state lawmakers did take action last fall in passing the California Age Appropriate Design Code Act.

S6: That is a privacy bill. It is not a bill designed to address the mental health harms that come from things like the business decisions and recommended recommendation algorithms that were talking about before. That bill is designed to better regulate the use of kids data from a privacy perspective. And that bill , of course , was a landmark bill first in the country that is also being copied in other states. And regrettably , the tech industry has sued to block that bill here in California. And Attorney general of California has just filed its brief in defense of the law , a brilliantly done brief , by the way , just a couple of days ago.

S1: And have you heard anything as far as possible federal legislation on social media regulation for kids ? We've heard for for months about potential TikTok bans , but that's not really focused on youth , is it ? No.

S6: In Congress , yeah , there are some efforts to revive the Kids Online Safety Act that didn't get across the finish line last year. And as you mentioned , there are other bills that I think are related to Tick Tock. But I think as far as I'm aware of , the real action is in the bipartisan. Other Kids Online Safety Act that I think that folks in Congress are earnestly trying to revive.

S1: And we should note that Children's Advocacy Institute is advocating for a California bill , State Bill 287. Can you explain what that bill intends to do ? Sure.

S6: Actually , we're actually working hard on behalf of two social media related bills , but Senate but we're not the sponsors of SB 287 that is sponsored by the author. Her name is Nancy Skinner. And that bill seeks to hold social media platforms liable for harms that they enumerated , harms that they knowingly cause or cause because they're failing to exercise the normal , being careful kind of behavior that we expect of everybody all day and every day and all of their business activities. And among the enumerated harms , there are addiction like last year's bill , but also the other harms that we now know are being exacerbated at record levels by social media platforms , eating disorders , suicide , harm to yourself and others. And importantly , the ease with which our children are buying pills that end up being laced with fentanyl and kill them. And so that bill passed out of its first policy committee and is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee , and we'll know the fate of that bill by mid May.

S1: I've been speaking with Ed Howard , senior counsel and senior policy advocate for the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego. Ed , thanks so much for your insight.

S6: Thank you very much for your time and your question.

S1: If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or a behavioral health crisis , you can call 988 for support and resources. Coming up , we'll hear from one teen and their perspective on social media.

S7: I think you can definitely eat up a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. And you know , honestly , after going down the rabbit hole , I'm not sure I find myself feeling much better afterwards.

S1: More on that when we come back. This is KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. We've been talking a lot about social media and its relationship to the youth mental health crisis , but we have yet to hear from Gen Z who this potential legislation will affect most. Matthew Ki Toriano is a sophomore at San Diego High School. He's currently a student board member at the San Diego Unified School District , where he's advocated for equity and justice. Matthew , welcome.

S7: Thanks so much for having me.

S5: So we've been talking.

S1: About social media and this mental health crisis.

S7: I think it's important to give students the tools and the knowledge to use social media responsibly. I think if we were to put in a rule saying only people over the age of 13 , I think the reality is , is that unless we educate students and the youth about the dangers of social media , there are ways , very easy ways to get around those rules. And we can keep enforcing those rules until it creates actual damage both to the greater society as a whole and to students.

S5: So how do.

S1: You and your friends use social media today ? Yeah.

S7: So the way that I use social media is a connection. You know , I connect with my friends. I think what's important to note is there's almost a difference. The way that I use social media a lot is almost to text my friends , to talk to them , to engage on one on one communication. I think that's really important. I also use social media to promote things. Part of my role as being on the school board means I have to promote and engage students with my work that looks like advertising things that I've done. And that's really what I use most of my social media with showing students what I stand for , what I've done and why they should support.


S7: The way that I define social media is things like where where you infinitely scroll. I think that's important because there's a distinction between talking with your friends , texting with your friends and , you know , scrolling endlessly through an Instagram feed. I think those two are very different. I've been texting my friends. I got my first phone when I started walking home when I was 13. And , you know , I feel like that's really helped me connect with my friends. But with regards to that idea of social media , that never ending endless pit of content , my first I first got Instagram towards the end of my freshman year , so when I was about 14. Um , I think that there has been a struggle , both myself and our generation as a whole , responsibly using social media for sure. I think it can definitely eat up a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. And you know , honestly , after going down the rabbit hole , I'm not sure I find myself feeling much better afterwards.

S5: Mm hmm.

S1: Earlier , you said that imposing rules on social media could in ways be more harmful than helpful. And in what ways do you see that being harmful ? Yeah.


S7: So I think it's. It's a bandaid solution , right ? It's putting rules in place are not going to stop harmful use of social media because what happens when you turn let's say the rule is 18 and you have to be 18 years old or older. Like I think social media has very much permeated a lot of our society. Even the the more professional sides from LinkedIn and Instagram campaigning for politics and things like that. Our world is so permeated and the idea of information and by setting rules were almost depriving our youth from using social media responsibly. I mean , I've connected a lot with friends and learned about people that , you know , I shared one class with them in eighth grade , and now I know about the things that they're doing , which I think is really cool. I think that if we don't give students the tools to use social media responsibly , what happens when they turn 18 , when they don't have , you know , parents holding them accountable or adults holding them accountable ? Right. What happens when you turn 18 and you're thrown into the world and you're not you've never used any of these both dangers and resources. Right. I think it could result in if we were to almost police social media at such a harsh level , we would be depriving individuals from the skills of self control which are so important.


S7: And I'm not going to act like an expert on the subject at all. I think there are ways that you could curate your feed. I think the unfortunate circumstance is that , you know , fighting the algorithm is incredibly difficult. I mean , there's multiple billions of dollars going into keeping our attention span. But I think the other part to look at is that our there's a part of our brains that's also wired to resist , right ? There's part of our brains that wants to use this responsibly. I think educate. To answer your question , I feel like education is huge. Um , I think what really changed my mindset around technology use in general , what really was enlightening for me was to learn about the brain chemistry that happens in my psych class and through other online resources that I've learned about. We learn a lot about what does technology use do to the brain , and that's helped me curate a much healthier mindset and relationship with the technology and social media that I do use. I think that education just simple here's how , here's how motivation can work and here's how sleep works. I think all of that very simple base level psychology can do a lot to ensuring that students use social media responsibly.

S1: So it's almost like there needs to be a class in school. Yeah.

S7: Yeah. So the Board of Education recently passed a resolution talking exactly about this. I was a happy co-sponsor of this resolution about how do we teach and use social media and technology in effective and responsible way in the classroom. Um was a result of a grassroots movement from a couple of students at Mira mesa High School who really cared about the way that school was impacting their social media and technology use. And as a result , over the next year , we're going to be reviewing current practices and creating new practices as a way of educating and really being mindful of the way the technology is used in our classrooms.


S7: I'm sure that there's plenty of research done about the effectiveness and the effects that social media has on the brain. I think it's also to recognize that we don't know the long term effects of social media when we're talking about spans of ten , 20 years. I do have confidence that if students are provided a. Good curriculum that doesn't shame them for the way that their brains are engineered and uplifts and celebrates wins. I think that we can do a lot of great work in fighting social media's endemic like attributes. Yeah , I do have confidence that as long as we do our part as leaders , then we can create a system that supports our students.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hyndman. I'm speaking with high school sophomore and student board member Matthew Keita Yano about social media from young people's perspective. You've spent the last year , Matthew , as a student member of the school board representing your peers across the district.

S7: Restrictions are hard , nearly impossible to enforce. I'm very curious to see how these restrictions would be implemented and enforced. But I feel like most students , unless they understand the underlying reasons for these rules , the brain chemistry that changes when social media is used. They're going to continue to search for ways to bypass such rules. And there are ways to get around regulations. I'm 100% confident in students ability to undermine these policies 100%. I feel like if we don't have the underlying knowledge or foundation that lets students really understand what these rules are about , they're going to continue to rebel. I think that goes for any rule.

S1: You know , and those who are pushing for bans on social media might not be taking students input into consideration at all.


S7: If I were talking to somebody that was , for example , pushing the TikTok ban , I'll use that as an example. I would say as long as you're being thorough and having the right intentions with your work. Go for it. If the science is backing up that a reduce a reduction in social media usage does improve mental health and things like that , go for it. But when we're thinking about rules , it's not just one approach. It requires an entire culture change of education in order for those rules to be successful. You know , we talk about individuals using social media earlier. We already have rules that say that individuals under the age of 13 should not be using social media. And yet that's not happening , in my opinion , because the underlying foundation and culture is not there. The knowledge of the dangers of social media is not fully fleshed out yet , and not all students know about the dangers that this poses.

S1: You know , in our show , we've been talking a lot about the negative impacts of social media on young people's mental health. But is there some good that can come from social media ? I know you've touched on it , but I'm just I'm curious to know more about that.

S7: Yeah , absolutely. You know , first , let me start by saying , yes , social media is dangerous , it's addictive , and it can often stifle a lot of potential. I think that it's social media is simple. It's mass information. Mass information can be used for good , for bad , and it can be used to enraptured the mind or suppress it. I 100% believe that social media and mass information can be used for good , both through advertising for , you know , many of the scholarships , opportunities and internship opportunities I've learned about because of social media , because I saw an ad for it on Instagram that someone posted or reposted. And I looked into it and I thought it was an amazing event. You know , so much connection happens to when we think about LinkedIn. LinkedIn to a lot of students is often becoming like Facebook is. You know , oftentimes a lot of networking is done through Instagram when we're talking about youth activism. We recently had a many of our climate change walkouts at schools have been organized and campaigned for using social media. I think there are plenty of examples where mass mobilization and information is used for tremendous good. But again , it's a tool and it's a resource , right ? It's like having a graphing calculator in your second grade arithmetic class. It's a crutch. And if you don't have the underlying knowledge , if you're using it to cheat and skip out on all the real parts that life has , then it can be incredibly detrimental. Hmm.

S5: Hmm.

S1: So math , you go ahead and make it plain for folks.

S7: Hours and the dangers that social media poses. I would ask that you treat our struggle with social media and addiction as real problems. I ask that you don't shame us for the struggles that we're going through. We're fighting against billion dollar machines , and I ask that you support us in our fight. You treat us not as simply kids scrolling on their phone , but people with ambitions that are fighting against a multi-billion dollar industry. I ask that you support us through your policies , that your interactions and be caring individuals about our struggles.

S1: I've been speaking with Matthew Kitano. He's a sophomore at San Diego High School and a student trustee with the San Diego Unified Board of Education. Matthew , it was such a pleasure talking to you and thank you so much for sharing your perspective.

S7: Thank you so much for having me. And drawing light to such an important issue.

S1: What did you think about today's show ? How is social media impacting you or the youth in your life ? Give us a call at (619) 452-0228. You can leave a message or you can email us at midday at And if you ever miss a show , you can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening.

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Among families with children age 8 and under, ownership of tablet devices has jumped five-fold since 2011, reports the nonprofit Common Sense Media.
Jeremy Hiebert
Among families with children age 8 and under, ownership of tablet devices has jumped five-fold since 2011, reports the nonprofit Common Sense Media.

Children and teens are facing a mental health crisis. Many parents, school leaders and legislators are pointing to social media use as one possible reason why.


Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, author of Generations

Ed Howard, Senior Counsel and Senior Policy Advocate for the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego

Matthew Quitoriano, student board member, San Diego Unified School District