Gen Z Is Trapped In A Virtual Cage – Epoch Times

Authored by Timothy S. Goeglein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

On Jan. 31, a groundbreaking hearing was held on Capitol Hill as the CEOs of five major social media platforms were called to testify (three only after having to be forced by subpoena) about the alleged harm—sometimes fatal—they have inflicted on America’s youth.

In this photo illustration, a teenager uses her mobile phone to access social media in New York on Jan. 31, 2024. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


For more than four hours, with family members in the audience who had lost children to suicide, these tech gurus tried to deflect any talk about or accept responsibility for the alleged negative influence of their platforms.


In his recent book, “The Anxious Generation,” social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt writes: “At the turn of the millennium, technology companies created a set of world-changing products that transformed life not just for adults but for children, too. … Yet, the companies that developed them had done little or no research on the mental health effects. When faced with growing evidence that their products were harming young people, they mostly engaged in denial, obfuscation, and public relations campaigns.”

The result has placed our children in a virtual cage that has isolated them physically, socially, and emotionally—with little hope of escape.

Trapped in this virtual cage, girls suffer massive depression as they face pressure to conform to certain body images, become targeted by predators, and are mocked by their peers if they choose not to participate in an online game of one-upmanship based on looks.

Mr. Haidt states: “The more time a girl spends on social media, the more likely she is to be depressed or anxious. Girls who say they spend five or more hours each weekday on social media are three times as likely to be depressed as those who report no social media time.”

Meanwhile, boys are sucked into a virtual world of video games and pornography, which traps them into a world of perpetual adolescence, with no idea of how to communicate with and treat the opposite sex in a gentlemanly manner, while also keeping them from maturing into responsible men.

Thus, given all this, is it any wonder why the suicide and self-harm rates for adolescents (particularly girls) have dramatically increased from 2010 to 2021, basically from the start of the smartphone/social media platform era to today?

Mr. Haidt concludes: “The overwhelming feeling I get from the families of both boys and girls is that they are trapped and powerless in the face of the biggest mental health crisis in history for their children. What should they—what should we—do?

To free our children from the virtual cage that has entrapped them, he suggests four types of response: (1) no smartphones before 14 years of age; (2) no access to social media before the age of 16; (3) banning smartphones from schools; and (4) allow more unsupervised play and childhood independence.

But while all of these recommendations are good, they continue to put all of the onus on parents who find themselves standing alone against a tsunami of even more technological dangers, in particular, AI, coming their way.

Smartphones are here to stay, there is no going back, so what we must do is chart a new course going forward. And while we can curse the darkness of the virtual cage our children are trapped in, things will likely not change until Big Tech and social media platforms are forced to change.

That is why it is critical that lawmakers act and reform the present roadblocks that Big Tech and social media platforms use to avoid responsibility for any harm they may have caused. Until that happens, they will continue to give faux apologies and issue nice-sounding press releases while more children get trapped in their virtual cage.

Only then will parents be empowered with the tools to free their children from the technological tyranny that may have damaged an entire generation—and will scar more to come—unless action is taken now.


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