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One of my sons was working as a youth pastor during the years before and after the introduction of the iPhone. He can tell interesting stories, as someone working on the front lines of youth culture, about how the iPhone’s introduction totally altered the group social dynamics of adolescents.
Over the next few years, as social media use began to really saturate the relationships and mind space of young people, observers began to notice some unsettling changes emerging within the adolescent community. Depression, self-hatred, and harm, along with other psychiatric pathologies, seemed to be ever more prevalent in the lives of young people.
For a while, though these pathologies correlated with the rise of social media use, people were cautious about concluding that social media itself was the actual cause of the uptick in psychiatric problems.
Now, Jonathan Haidt and his collaborators are making the case from the data that it has become painfully clear: social media is actually a major cause underlying the epidemic of mental health problems in adolescents, and this is most pronounced where adolescent females are concerned.