While the companies have tried to separate themselves from each other, lawmakers on both sides have agreed that more action is needed to keep children safe online.
To learn more about how these platforms affect children’s mental health, we turn to Jean Twenga. She is a professor of psychology and author of iGen: Why Modern Over-Connected Children Grow Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy, And Completely Unprepared For Adulthood.
Jean Twenge, it’s great to have you back at News Hour.
So, as we heard today, there has been serious concern expressed on Capitol Hill that these platforms could harm young people.
What do we know about the actual research as to whether these things are harmful?
Jean Twenge, author of iGen: Yes, so generally speaking, the more time a child or adolescent spends in front of the screen, the more likely they are to become depressed, anxious and hurt themselves.
There are gradations in this. Watching videos is not as strongly associated with depression as, say, being on social media. But especially when kids and teens spend a lot of time on the Internet, there is less time to sleep, less time to communicate with people face-to-face, and less time for running outdoors and exercising.
And so, perhaps as a result, we are seeing a huge increase in teenage depression at the same time that these platforms became very popular.