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Teens, tech and mental health: Oxford study finds no link (bbc.com)
112 points by kvee 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 126 comments





The study title is “ There Is No Evidence That Associations Between Adolescents’ Digital Technology Engagement and Mental Health Problems Have Increased”.

It does NOT suggest there is no link, but that it hasn’t gotten worse (or better) in the past 10 years.


Yeah, in fact the basic result is that there's about a .05-.20 ish correlation between social media and various mental health problems, broadly defined (not depression though, it's a zero). And this correlation doesn't change.

Correlation is not causation and this study makes no attempt to solve that problem.

Note also that if the association is causal, and the size of the association remains the same, but the level of the independent variable goes up - i.e. people spend more time on their phones/TVs/computers - then the size of the resulting problem will go up too.


I’ve heard a theory that the causation is in the other direction, where those who are currently depressed spend more time consuming media including social media

I would imagine that’s a similar level of correlation with adults as well? Between mental health problems and adult usage that is.

Definitely need the title changed @dang

Father of four daughters and five kids. Of my five kids, two have attempted suicide (both tried at school). In both cases, they missed a concept in school and the teachers clamped down on what they saw as laziness. Being a middle-school kid is tough, and that extra negative interaction was the trigger (suicide is complicated, and there was a lot more going than the academic problem).

So many of the parents I met as my kids went through counseling and group were quick to blame tech. As they would talk through what had happened, it would become apparent that it wasn't the tech - it was the people. The tech was just where the kids were communicating. It was a lot like blaming the highway for a drunk driver's behavior. All I can really say is LISTEN when your kids are struggling. It's hard because kids will hide their problems. It's hard because there's no manual for being a parent, and every child very different.


What I see very commonly(and what I experienced growing up) is that kids nowadays are given very, very little autonomy nowadays. Kids are confined to a very small amount of space where they aren't allowed to play, explore, or be out of sight of a caregiver. At school, they are expected to behave like little adults. Rambunctiousness and energy are shamed. Socialization is relegated to a small period of recess or extracurriculars, both of which are monitored. Exercise isn't done on a regular basis. In this environment, it's natural for them to escape to a digital world where they can actually do what they want.

When I was a kid in such an environment, I played video games for hours and hours. I once stayed up 40+ hours playing GTA. When I moved out and controlled my own life, the appeal disappeared overnight.

With that said, there's definitely something to the claims that social media is addictive. Reddit had me hooked for years. They are like skinner boxes. But it's only part of the story, and different technologies will probably cause different outcomes and levels of addiction. I don't mind my kid playing a Switch, but I don't plan on letting her have a social media account.


Yes, in short: they are treated like children but demanded to behave like an adult. For me the answer is giving them as much self-responsibility and independence as they can manage. Treat them like a child and they will behave like a child.

> I don't mind my kid playing a Switch, but I don't plan on letting her have a social media account.

The problem is eventually she'll be left out if she's the only one of her peers without social media.


> The problem is eventually she'll be left out if she's the only one of her peers without social media.

My thinking here is this: its not necessarily the social communication aspect of social media that's the issue, it's the engagement-driven algorithmic feed that presents the addiction potential. Their feed becomes tuned to whatever gets them hooked, even if it's vapid or harmful. Because of this, I'll still let her text friends and probably use Snapchat or other IM apps. But anything that uses feeds is a hard "no."

It still leaves the potential for bullying, but that potential will always exist.


I understand that, and believe me I am sympathetic (nothing wrong with texting, but instagram/tiktok/facebook algorithms are probably very harmful for a developing mind). But then the question becomes: how do you intend to stop it? Short of forbidding her from using a phone or computer, how can you stop her/him from using an app behind your back?

Same as anything: tell her not to, teach her why it's important, and tell her that there will be repercussions and a loss of trust if she is caught breaking the rules, then kind of keep an eye on her. A certain level of deviance is normal and expected in children, and she will eventually be caught and punished.

My goal as a parent isn't to enforce a way of life with an iron fist, but to guide her and shape the way she lives her life while letting her learn about living it herself. I could install apps that monitor her usage, but I want to give her a sense of autonomy and freedom within a stable environment with clear expectations.


From another parent, yours seems like a totally reasonable compromise. If someone is going to shun a kid for not being on an app, they're probably not the kid's friend in the first place.

> there's definitely something to the claims that social media is addictive. Reddit had me hooked for years

Addiction is exactly that. I’ve had a conf on addictions and the speaker said most people grow out of addictions, even heroin, and the people who die from them are a surprisingly small proportion. She mentioned people going out of hard drugs, and generally from one day to another after they realize the cost it had. Just like you did ;)

Congrats, I guess.


I’m terribly sorry to hear this and hope that your daughters are doing well.

One thing that I’ve noticed with my nephews (my son is not quite old enough) is that smartphones seem to amplify certain behaviors, good and bad.

I was bullied pretty badly in school until I turned into a big gorilla. But then life was segmented. Little league friends knew little or nothing about what was happening in school. Things were “said” not written.

Now everything is connected. It’s great as during COVID groups of friends were able to organize Minecraft groups and keep connected. But.. I’ve noticed some of the older kids feel very anxious about what people say — as the online stuff in in writing and screenshots, etc can pretty easily be shared. Many parents don’t understand “online” life and take extreme stances.


It is what I say to everybody: I am very happy that you can find no traces of my childhood on the Internet.

I was never a problem kid, teen and student, but we had parties, fun, we enjoyed life knowing that the day after what happened would simply stay as memories which would later vanish with the time.

We have 3 boys (8, 12 and 14) and I can see how for our oldest one, all the social medias (or whatever social "App du jour") is putting more pressure on how he looks. He has a tendency to pay attention to clothes, hair style, whatever and all this tech is increasing the pressure.

At the moment it has no effects on the two others but they do not have this interest at all.

The amplification effect of an existing tendency is real and very hard to manage because you can talk a lot with your kids but you cannot cut them from these "built to be addictive" apps which are used by all the friends.

And these stuff last... nothing is erased...


Counterpoint: The iPhone saved me.

Yes, it’s also a source of the problem compounding, but when dealing with people was absolutely unbearable (especially during lockdown where everyone had rules for others), being able to override all of those suicidal/psychopathic/rage thoughts with a tasteless podcast/youtube video has proven successful. In another generation I would gave gotten myself drunk to sleep, at least I can binge-watch until sleep.

Of course phone addiction is here a signal correlated with things going extremely bad, but plays various roles in that.


A lot has changed from when I was a kid, but one thing I noticed hasn't: teachers (and other education system "contributors") are still very quick and eager to sort kids into buckets. Gifted, lazy, ESL, troublemaker, creative, well-behaved-but-dumb, etc. and once your kid is in a bucket, good luck getting them out. I couldn't imagine the hopelessness of being a kid where all the authority figures around you just assessed one day you were headed for failure and treated you that way forever, but it's standard at school.

In my day, it was blatant: we were actually on numerically assigned tracks, 1 to 6, where 1 was "college bound," 6 was "prison bound," and the numbers in between were on a step-function spectrum between those two extremes. And people rarely if ever changed tracks.


Yeah that's just wrong and horrible. We know most kids love to learn and you see that from infancy to kindergarten. That's innate.

I don't think we spend enough time teaching behavioral and emotional regulation skills which is the core skill you need to strengthen throughout life.


I dont agree that tech is unrelated to mental health, but I like how you ended this comment. It shocks me how few parents actually listen to their kids. Even the otherwise good parents who invest enormous time and energy into their kids will do anything for them except actually listen to them. It's like they're so convinced that they already know what's going their child's mind that asking seems ridiculous.

Tech certainly does have some effect on mental health. Probably both positive and probably some negative, too.. It's really easy though to blame the tech and miss something much bigger. We thought my daughter wasn't getting her work done at school because of she spent too much time on TikTok. We were taking away the devices when we should have been talking and understanding what was going on in her life.

This really makes me wonder; kid suicides and the pressure in school as a causal factor is something I have heard of from multiple trustworthy sources in the US, including teachers.

When I was growing up most teachers ranged from strict/disciplinarian, to casually mean, towards the kids who were lazy and/or didn't understand things. Even really great teachers that were otherwise kind and really helped kids did this - e.g. one (of the kind, helpful ones) would make sarcastic jokes at the expense of kids who didn't do their homework, making the entire class laugh at them (one of the gentler ones that I liked was "oh, you forgot? It takes special talent to forget something when you haven't bothered to read it in the first place!" or smth like that).

Some of my college professors said things like "you have to understand how this concept works, or next year you may be trying to understand how Kalashnikov works" [as an expelled conscript in the Russian army - basically a prison from which college exempts you].

Still, I do not know a single person in any of my classes in school or college, or anyone I knew really, who has committed suicide... and to the best of my knowledge nobody has attempted it either.

What is special about the culture/upbringing/environment/... in the USA that makes pressure and "meanness" (for the lack of better word) such a problem for kids?


I'm really sorry to hear about your kids' struggles. Middle school seems especially intense these days. One of our kids has had a really rough time at middle school for similar reasons. We ended up pulling her out and homeschooling.

Even the private schools are validated her as "not willing to learn". What a mess.


I'm sorry to hear that, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope your children are currently doing well.

> As they would talk through what had happened, it would become apparent that it wasn't the tech - it was the people. The tech was just where the kids were communicating.

I think this is clearly true, but I think the idea is that tech has enabled new modes of interaction that can cause much more damage much more easily, and that we haven't built social antibodies to yet. I tend to roll my eyes at the doom-and-gloomers claiming that global connectivity hasn't done anything but cause psychological problems, but I did assume that there were significant societal costs currently being realized by this upheaval in the way humans connect to each other, and found the study to be quite an interesting finding.


(throwaway account)

I'm not a parent, but the circumstances of your children is quite similar to my girlfriend.

Her parents had been pushing her to succeed academically since middle school, and they really punished her (either physically or verbally) for getting bad grades. This pattern continued even after she started college. The final straw was when her depression made a return, she got a 2.0 GPA, and she decided suicide was better than letting her parents know.

I hope you won't take this as me taking a jab at your parenting, it's just that your story resonates a lot with me, and I feel like taking my feelings out. I hope you and your family are able to recover from this unfortunate event.


Have you considered taking them out of school?

Yes, and we did.

Great move, and so sorry about your kids. Lost a daughter myself in similar circumstances.

We really were lucky. So sorry to hear about your daughter.

I'm just curious, what kind of school did they go to - was this in the US? Was it an affluent-suburban public school? Private?

Affluent suburban public for one. Less affluent, borderline rural for the other.

Not a valid comparison.

Alcohol and Tech can fuck people's brains up by fiddling with its reward mechanisms - https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/issue/september-...

After the fiddling happens parents, bosses, teachers, friends etc are quite capable with good intentions and knowledge gaps of making things worse.

Ask a family member or a friend of alcoholic or a gambler or a druggie what success they have had just "listening". What does work is keeping a close eye on the kid when they are most susceptible. Not giving them access to drugs and leaving the drugs with them in their room the whole night.

Thats were parents fuck up.


> Ask a family member or a friend of alcoholic or a gambler or a druggie what success they have had just "listening"

Suicide and chemical addiction are not the same thing.

Also, while someone going in a bender may get hurt, someone trying to kill themselves... is a much deeper risk. To say listening will not help is very much wrong. In a lot of cases someone who is suicidal (my kids both did and the person they told is why I still have five kids) will literally tell others what they are planning.


That article's not opening for me on mobile, but do realize that just because something "affects the reward mechanisms" doesn't make it an addiction. There are lots of things that affect the reward mechanism - learning new things, spending time with kids - that we wouldn't consider addictions. The junk science on this topic has really gotten out of hand.

Nah. Easy scapegoat for shitty rubberneckers.

“They left him on the computer too long. We restrict johnnys computer use so that won’t happen.”

Tech doesn’t create new social problems. It exacerbates existing ones in new ways. Teen mental health issues have been steadily increasing for decades.


"The tech was just where the kids were communicating. It was a lot like blaming the highway for a drunk driver's behavior." Seems like they were comparing the highway system, not alcohol.

The title seems to contradict the content of the research - to quote the abstract of the paper, "Technology engagement had become less strongly associated with depression in the past decade", i.e. there is a link between depression and technology use, it's just not as strong as it used to be.

Full quote:

Technology engagement had become less strongly associated with depression in the past decade, but social-media use had become more strongly associated with emotional problems. We detected no changes in five other associations or differential associations by sex. There is therefore little evidence for increases in the associations between adolescents’ technology engagement and mental health.

In other words, "some links got stronger, others got weaker, there's no clear pattern so we don't take these changes that seriously."


But wouldn't that be trivially explainable with that since everyone uses technology all the time these days those who use it to escape their issues stand put less? Meaning the study essentially just measures to ubiquity of tech.

Also consider that tech addiction is currently quite normalized IMO.

Bad headline by the BBC - the study doesn't say 'no link', they are saying the link has not got stronger.

As I get older I'm realizing it's more efficient to trust my gut than science communication or journalism on scientific issues.

Social media companies and YouTube hire armies of phds in psychology to make their products as addicting and important to users as possible in our attention based economy. That's going to have a negative impact on young kids. No study out there that contradicts this is going to be taken seriously by me on first glance. Easy, simple rule. Keeps me moving quickly through the news each day


I agree.

Any time I see a study on use of this technology, particularly mobile, that differs from studies on gambling machine addiction, the cynic in me takes over.

Admittedly, gambling money is different than gambling social status, but I'm not quite sure how.


Of course. The rise of antidepressant usage and many other worrying trends predate mass Internet adoption and social networks.

We should still burn Facebook to the ground out of abundance of caution.


> We should still burn Facebook to the ground out of abundance of caution.

Prevention is the key.


Sadly, social media is the new smoking.

I encourage everyone to read "the book of why" by Judea Pearl. It illustrates how "research" and "studies" were used to sew doubt about the dangers of smoking. That's where we're at with social media, BUT, we have new tools like causal inference that should decrease the length of time we deal with "no link found here" or "correlation is not causation" bs.


As far as this particular study goes:

Unlike the industry funded research you implicitly refer to (tobacco, fossil fuel,...), this study was done by a department of the University of Oxford, which is publicly funded.

The title from actual press release / news item from their website reads this:

> Study suggests little to no increase over time in association between adolescents’ technology engagement and mental health problems, urges more transparent collaborations between academia and industry

The second part wasn't mentioned in the BBC article and pretty much addresses your concern.

From the press release:

> To enable a robust study of life in the digital age, the authors suggested an urgent need for more credible and transparent collaborations between technology companies and independent scientists.

> “We need more transparent and credible collaborations between scientists and technology companies to unlock the answers. The data exists within the tech industry, scientists just need to be able to access it for neutral and independent investigation.”

https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/news/releases/study-suggests-little...


The study was partially funded by public money through the Economic and Social Research Council, and partly through a foundation called The Huo Family Foundation, which I do not believe is publicly funded.

I would just add that the content of The Book of Why is amazing but damn is the audio book bad.

It might be the worst read book I can think of. I am not even sure why, it just so painful to get through with the way the voice actor speaks.

Hopefully it gets a new rendition at some point in the future.


Huh, I didn't know that, but I highly recommend the hard cover!

Still, we do not know if these studies were manipulated by the industry or how much. We have no evidence except them. Cynicism is not a substitute for actual evidence.

I agree — if you think there were faults in the methodology: fair, point them out. But to cast doubt on a paper simply because "we don't know how these were manipulated" is a lazy effort to disregard conclusions that don't fall on preconceived notions.

28-year long study is too broad, as social media has been available for 10 year olds for much shorter period of time. So the pre-social media effects obstruct the social media ones significantly.

The 10 year olds may end up better adapted than us old farts.

Haven't we been here before? TV? Video games?


Video games are issue for families still. The 10 years old did not adapted that much, their parents had to build knowledge and strategies on how to deal with related issues. It is not like you could allow your kids to have unlimited amount of playing any game they ask for.

Same with tv while kids watched tv. It was primary parents who had to adapt, make decisions about which show to allow at what age, what not and how much of it to allow.


> It is not like you could allow your kids to have unlimited amount of playing any game they ask for.

You can apply this to any kind of recreational activity, it doesn't matter if it's videogames or soccer or reading books at night. If you don't put limits, they don't learn them. And of course, don't pretend to put limits at 10 when they weren't earlier on.

The kids need limits for any activity, but parents aren't always there to put them.


As parents, we do currently put limits (TV, phone games, etc) but I question the validity of the approach all the time. As a kid I had mostly no limits on anything... Could I have built better discipline with limits? Maybe... Or maybe I would just resent my parents more. It's hard for me to tell from my perspective.

We put limits on things, because we have friends who did not had them. We did not liked how the situation developed there, they did not either and then put limits on things.

In any case, I did had limits when I was a kid. My parents enforced when I went to sleep. They were proactively sending me outside when I was spending too much time reading. I did homework mostly without issues, but when I started to forget it in one period, there were some limits too. And then there were "natural" limits in term of me having to go to various activities I was signed up to - I could not just skipped.

With computer games specifically, there were natural limitations of single computer in family of four where work/studying automatically took precedence from gaming. And plus no kid was allowed to monopolize computer for himself. And parents would kick you out of computer if it was late (it was in their room anyway).


When I talked about limits I was not referring to a hard limit with a clock and amount of hours they can spend. Maybe it could be just as simple as teaching importance of things ("you can play videogames once you finish your homework"), this is also a limit.

I'm the same way. My parents were very hands off in that respect (more because they were busy than anything else) and I wonder if that's had any negative effects on me, or if I should be more restrictive of my kids.

And with some activities it is easier then with others. Because general toy makers have hard time to make the plastic cars addictive, it is much easier with video games and A/B testing. I do know multiple families who had issue with their kid (usually boy) being aggressive when told to give away tablet. I do not know family that would deal with similar issue around books. They did solved it eventually, but the process was frustrating and took quite a lot of effort.

You are also less likely to deal with someone raging while building legos, while having to deal with loud swearing teenage gamer is quite common. (Yes, in involved families, the issue is typically eventually solved. )


Just as an anecdote, I do remember raging as a kid (5-6) when I was failing to build a Lego properly, and then being extremely quiet (concentrated) while playing Counter-Strike for (too many) hours as a teenager. But I get your point :)

I think it takes time and practice for people to acquire emotional stability. It can also be domain-specific. As in, you can have a lot of patience solving technical problems, but not a lot of patience dealing with people (or vice versa). Some of it perhaps is transferable, but I'm not sure to what extent.


> You are also less likely to deal with someone raging while building legos, while having to deal with loud swearing teenage gamer is quite common. (Yes, in involved families, the issue is typically eventually solved. )

And is the issue there the activity or the age?


If you can keep control over your emotions and amount of playing, playing games is not an issue.

The older you are, the bigger issue rage and lack of displayed self control is. The primary issue is impact of raging on everyone around - starting from siblings and moving to parents. No matter what actual activity, 5 years old raging is less of issue, both because a.) they are still just supposed to learn self control b.) they are 5 years old out of control still cant do much damage and is not scary except for younger sibling. Teenager not controlling emotions is more uncomfortable to be around. "Loud swearing teenager/adult" is someone you don't want to live with.

Playing games is more likely to trigger them into such state. The gaming culture is more likely to validate such behavior and labeling it as cool or expected - while labeling those who object as overly controlling. So the end result is that instead of realizing "I acted like asshole I better control myself or play different game", they have no subjective reason to work on it.


So basically what I said:

> And of course, don't pretend to put limits at 10 when they weren't earlier on.


Kids will rage just the same about books, but not much people take them away.

Absolutely not, they dont. And if they did, people would take those books away.

Oh, I see you haven't seen many kids and never really tried taking their books away the same way people take away tablets - in the middle of a game, without much prior notice, without communicated logic and reason. From my experience as assistant teaching kids 7-10 years old and boy scout leader (7-15 y/o kids) they absolutely do rage the same way about books, cards (Magic etc) and so on.

The difference is how the parent treats the activity; gamer parents are often stricter than ordinary parents but their children are not seen as 'playing that dumb game on that damn thing again', and thus their communication about it is very different. The result can be seen in the classroom: gamer parent kids are usually totally okay while talking about their use of electronics, the others get extremely defensive to the point of not talking, even though they know I am accepting. The gamer parent kids are splitting their time across activites, while the kids who are usually interrupted are trying to play as much as possible before someone interrupts them again.

Also consider that a tablet is not only a personal gaming device, but a method of socialization. You're basically forcing them to go be alone, and let me tell you that kids don't accept that well even without electronic devices in question.

People are not taking books away because reading is seen as good, but they should - I have seen far too many kids with ruined backs and very weird ideas about society and their behavior or place in it.


I have seen kids and seen both removed abruptly.

No, the activities don't generate the same behavior.


That's why I said "many".

It must be hard to find a control group of teens not using social media.

Yeah and I think that those people are also not an otherwise average representation of population. I.e. if you have the strength to no do it, you must have some special character traits for which it is very difficult to correct the research.

We have to be careful about proof of absence and absence of proof here.

The Journal title is incredibly misleading here: “ There Is No Evidence That Associations Between Adolescents’ Digital Technology Engagement and Mental Health Problems Have Increased” - this wasn’t a lit review paper or meta analysis.

Sad that a top 20 journal would overstate the findings.


I wouldn't be too judgmental here. From the authors' and editors' perspective, the implications are clear because the paper is not marked as a review/survey. Sure, it's not a good choice, but I also think it's unreasonable to expect a title like "this study does not find evidence...".

I don't know about the study itself, but the title of the article doesn't match its content. It seems to be more about a lack of evolution of the link, than about a lack of link.

The article says: "We couldn't tell the difference between social-media impact and mental health in 2010 and 2019. We're not saying that fewer happy people use more social media. We're saying that the connection is not getting stronger."


I don't even need to read the article to know that the implied clickbait is wrong.

I have worked hard to wean myself off the harmful effects of (mostly social) tech, and will do my utmost to pass these lessons on to my kids. My wife and I even have ideas like having a wifi-free house.

I think about this but then I remember the massive amount of time I spent playing the original Nintendo and watching cable TV.

That basically changed when I got basic dial up and a computer which I spent a lot of time disassembling and rebuilding both at the hardware and software level.

So today my kids play roblox, minecraft and watch youtube. And they do this while facetiming their friends. My kids will build crazy boats and structures in both roblox and minecraft.

They have zero interest in regular tv as far as I can tell. They'd rather watch people play roblox/minecraft or mashups of the simpson's on youtube then tv.


it was never technology, it was ideas and society (social norms). But tech makes it so much easier to over power evolutionary aspects that really shouldn't be overwhelmed. Porn. Guilt. Comparison. etc. Not an easy problem at all. But finding no link seems incredulous.

Is it tech or social media?

Many of us used computers as teenagers - I don't think it did any damage.


I'd draw a line before and after constant connection and social media web2.0. Tech felt like a chunk of your life before, now it feels central, infrastructural, unavoidable.

It's just an opinion.


Stop calling phone apps and video games and web sites “tech”.

While I am skeptical about the finding of this particular study, I also think social media gets blamed for lot of cultural problems unjustifiably. Being an immigrant, one of the culture shocks in North America for me was how much narcissistic the culture is. In a very weird way people are encouraged to have grandiose self-image in the name of high self-esteem. Social media has definitely excerbated self-centerdness. But the self-centeredness is a cultural issue, social media just made it more visible.

American culture is deeply rooted in what is called expressive individualism. The idea that to unleash their potential, one has to outwardly express their individual feelings, views and preferences via public channels. That is coupled with moral utilitarianism which prescribes that every action should lead to the greatest quantifiable amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people.

It is certainly a shock for people coming from more inward-looking, collective cultures.


North American culture is individualistic in theory, not in practice. Coming from a very collectivistic culture, I can tell you people care way less about number of followers and number of likes than North American people do. You'd expect in an individualistic culture, people wouldn't be obsessed about curating perfect image in social media or dream about being a social media celebrity. That goes against the very idea of individualism. What's happening here isn't individualism, it's validation seeking. That's why I used the word narcissism. Because narcissism at its core is insecurity and validation seeking.

In collectivist culture, you dont want to stick out. You are encouraged to be like others, the nail that sticks out gets hammered" kind of thing . Having many followers is sticking out and is being different.

Individualism does not mean lack of wish to compete, win or succeed. And American culture specifically, is really big on competition of any kind.


The behavior you describe is validation-seeking, but that doesn't show that American culture is not individualistic.

The individualism shows up in a myriad of other ways, both cultural and political.


Trust the science and keep on consooomimg content!

The only 'social media' I use is HN because there's 'forced civility'.

Still need an explanation for why young female suicide is increasing

Read “the coddling of the American mind”, fantastic book that gives some insight into how we now raise kids to be fragile instead of anti fragile, so when things come up they get blown up into existential catastrophes.

Very very good book and audiobook. Haidt also has another great book that dives into political differences at a fundamental level, helps understand how to bridge empathy gap in current divisive political climate.



That's all females, I meant teens or pre teens

You got a link with a reference for that? I'm not doubting you, just want to know the numbers.

Sure: https://www.the-sun.com/news/1487147/social-media-suicides-s...

This pertains to the US, I'm not sure if the same trend exists elsewhere.


Thank you! There seems to be a more detailed documentary on it, thanks for pointing me towards it.

Why not look to society instead of technology?

We're not sure, but we think method substitution might be playing a role here.

I see "fewer" vs "less" has become the new "between you and I". Quote from the researcher, presumably mangled by some illiterate subeditor:

"We're not saying that fewer happy people use more social media."


....and...what's the problem?

"Fewer" is correct when talking about a discrete quantity (like people).

"Less" is correct when talking about a continuous quantity (like water).


But as the context shows, what they mean is not "a smaller amount of happy people". They mean "people who are less happy". Here, "less" is an adverb, and "fewer" is dead wrong.

Ah, I see. Wow, that's a weird enough error that my brain did not flag it as wrong, just assumed that it meant "fewer people."

It's cheap and easy to blame mysterious outside forces (like Video games, violence on TV, Drugs, Communism and now social media) for social problems. It saves us from facing up to the downsides of the society we have built and maintained. It reassures us none of our problems are our fault.

One way to avoid this problem is to do research that tells us whether outside forces actually are, or are not, responsible for social problems. That's what scientific studies like this one try to do.

Ah, but if we did that we'd then have to actually acknowledge those problems. Take a look at the comments here too see how many people would rather NOT accept the results...

tech don't drive ppl crazy, ppl do

There is no correlation? How about the causation of dopamine hits caused by videogames and social media? Where do all the adhd misdiagnoses come from?

One thing that's really interesting for me is that on websites with a lot of US users, there's a LOT of talk about ADHD

basically whenever any not-physicall problem/illness is being discussed, then probability of somebody mentioning ADHD goes to 100%

but why?

or maybe it's that my country is somewhat backwards and is not used as the reason this often


Talking about ADHD is a form of humble bragging as young people that have been diagnosed with ADHD (regardless of whether or not they have it) can use that label to explain away personal quirks and lower academic performance while having a prescription for performance enhancing medication.

ADHD is a popular topic for discussion because the US educational system is very achievement focused and students (and a lot of parents probably) want to have a special edge as well as a convenient excuse.


Interesting since the real competitive schools are in Asia. Do they talk a lot about ADHD over there, I wonder?

What "real competitive schools" are you talking about and why are they the real ones?

Here's a scientific-ish article.

https://www.otago.ac.nz/deepsouth/vol2no1/setsuo.html

Found it by googling, you can get hundreds of pieces to read about the asian (or at least japanese/chinese) school system.


That looks like broad assumptions about "culture" combined with total abuse of statistics that conflate children of immigrants from non-english speaking countries with 'east asian culture'.

I'm not going to read through a bunch of cliches to see if there might be something that actually backs up what you're saying in there. There was no indication from what you linked that 'the real competitive schools' are in asia.


Do your own research, there are thousands of pieces about Asian schooling around. Or stay in your bubble.

I did my own research and came to the conclusion that what you said is a cliche that is not based in reality.

If you make a claim, don't tell someone to "do their own research" instead of backing it up. I'm not going to go on a wild chase to find something that backs up your nonsense when you can't be bothered to source something yourself.


I'll preface that I've been diagnosed with ADHD and I know a decent number of other people with it. Additionally, I'm in my mid 20s so I was a student somewhat recently as well.

ADHD isn't about bragging, it isn't a way to excuse personal failing, and it isn't a clever ploy to get access to some edge that puts you at an advantage against the rest of your peers.

People without ADHD like to joke about how great Adderall and other ADHD drugs are and how "lucky" we are to have them like they are an advantage. I don't like taking my medication and it's basically a choice for me whether I want to be productive or be a person. I struggle to stay focused/directed on tasks regardless of whether I enjoy them or not if I don't take my medication. However if I do take it I essentially lose all creativity and ability to innovate. I basically become a drone.

For me it's a careful juggling of what I need to do in a day and how much I can "get away with" my inability to focus on a task in exchange for being able to multi-task and/or solve problems creatively. I've tried all kinds of time management and focus improvement systems/habits. They work to an extent but as soon as there is some kind of "disturbance" in my environment, the efforts might as well be for naught and it'll be an hour or so detour unless I had taken my medication that day.

On top of this context switching is effectively impossible for me with or without medication. If I'm changing what I'm doing it'll be a minimum of at least 4 hours before I'm even slightly productive. I can only work on one project at a time because of this. As a student this nearly killed me time and time again. You can't manage 5-7 classes with entirely different subjects if it takes you half a day to properly switch your focus and be able to focus.

Additionally there's the constant burnout and depression like symptoms on top of the focus and context switching issues which only add to the difficulty of being a functional human being. People don't realise that these are symptoms of ADHD but they are. When I end up burnt out due to stress or overwork it becomes effectively permanent. The last time I ended up burnt out in University I took an entire semester off (~9 months) and even after I returned it hadn't recovered. During that period I was constantly exhausted and every task took far longer than expected and I struggled far more than I reasonably should have. Now I have to carefully balance my life because if I end up stressed from work for too long I can barely function and my productivity effectively drops to 0 for months at a time.

I could write pages going into the other ADHD derived issues I face but they are rather personal and I've already written enough as is so I'll leave it at that.

Trust me when I say that we aren't happy we have ADHD and we aren't using it to brag or get an advantage. I hate my medication but it's the only thing that brings me even remotely close to being on an even footing with my peers.


My personal opinion is that the current educational paradigm is not a good fit for many students and (or because) the educational system places students into an adversarial/competitive environment.

We wouldn't tolerate school athletics to require students to take steroids in order to pass Gym so why should it ever be expected for a student to need to take Adderall or another ADHD drug to complete an academic class?


The difference is that most of us don't function in a normal working environment without our medication either.

I'm lucky that my chosen profession (SWE) largely gives me the autonomy to focus on tasks one at a time and that I can avoid having meetings spaced throughout the day. Most of the rest of "us" however aren't that lucky and will struggle significantly more than they already do if they didn't have that medication.

I guess the comparison would be if someone needed to take steroids just to be able to function in day to day life, would it not be expected that they would be taking it as a student? As an example, should students with muscular atrophy or hormonal issues be prevented from taking steroids because it could potentially give them an advantage in gym class?

Additionally, I know my medication isn't a great match for me but it's the best out of everything I've tried. Maybe in this sense (and since it's a mental/non-physical issue) the better comparison would be to chronic depression and antidepressants. Essentially, to the best of my knowledge the medication I am currently taking works the best for me but it still only gets me 70-80% of the way to where a normal person would be and the side-effects bring me down 10-20% in another way. In the end the medication gets me half way to functional and I have to structure my life around making up that other half. At no point have I ever considered that my medication was giving me an advantage but rather that it lets me just barely see the starting line.


The way I view it from outside the US is they will diagnose anything as a mental illness. There's a lot of not really needed mood altering medication given out over there.

While mental illness does exist, my guess is it's exaggerated by at least a factor of 10.


I'm not American and I wasn't just referencing official medical diagnoses but also self-diagnoses. "Maladaptive daydreaming" and "reality shifting" are a thing kids nowadays suffer from.

> or maybe it's that my country is somewhat backwards and is not used as the reason this often

Please don't dismiss mental illness here.


I don't, I meant that ADHD isn't the only mental illness out there.

No, the mental health field is definitely a mixed bag. The concept of mental illness deserves close inspection.

For example, you can speak of mental illness as an objective disorder of the psyche. On the other, you can speak of mental illness as the pathologizing of immoral behavior as illness, or even moral behavior that departs from prevailing cultural expectations or the preferences of the powerful, and still further objective mental illness resulting from cultural expectations or the preferences of the powerful.

(A curious side effect of any metaphysical stance that denies the reality of function, a teleological concept, is that you have no objective reference by which to adjudicate. So you are generally left with either cultural expectation, preferences of the powerful, or personal preferences, which undermines the very idea of mental illness as such.)

People are easily attracted to the pathologizing of their discontents because it appears to offer an explanation and possibly something to blame. Of course, the relief one feels is not necessarily an indication that the belief is true. It may only be a distraction from the root cause which may in fact be moral (immoral behavior can generate mental illness) or cultural (living according to a consumerist ethos and its mental health effects).


I'm interested in how you're differentiating immoral from cultural, given that morals are pretty much entirely defined by cultural expectations.

Why dont they try looking for dietary causes since we literally are what we eat. As an anecdote, I suffered a mild gloominess to everything when I was a teenager. In uni I stopped eating white bread and voila. What we eat really has a direct impact on our mental health so there is a lever to pull rather than the pie in the sky claims of technology causing people anguish.

While I'm happy it has worked for you, I'm sure you'll find that many people stopped being gloomy once they left their teenage years, regardless of the grain products they did or didn't consume.



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