The increase in suicides during the last 16 years may correspond to the rise in opioid addictions. However, this theory does not explain the increase in suicides of American children, which started spiking around 2010.
In Utah, an activist named Collin Kartchner identifies the most likely culprit as social media, including smartphones and Facebook. These apps and devices expose children to extreme forms of peer pressure, taunting, bullying and “soul-crushing pressures to be perfect.”
Unlimited screen time also deprives users of sleep, exercise and healthy relationships. These negative influences have resulted in more youth being diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
In the 1970s and 80s, the anti-smoking campaign helped sharply curtail cigarette smoking and saved lots of lives. Perhaps we need a similar campaign confronting the dangers of excessive screen time.
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In the meantime, parents must step up to the plate and limit the use of social media in their homes. Set rules and put up fire walls. Don’t give cell phones or iPads to kids under age 14. Don’t allow them to use Facebook.
And don’t ignore your children because you are glued to the screen!