What Netflix's "The Social Dilemma" Has To Say About Mental Health
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

10363
I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

I also believe that media, specifically social media, can create negativity, divisiveness, and hurt.

This side of social media — the negative side, not the side that helps you keep up with your Great Aunt Ruth — is on full display in Netflix's "The Social Dilemma." People who can easily be considered tech geniuses, previously working in key roles at places like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, sit down for interviews relating to manipulative algorithms, addictive notification settings, and irrefutable harm caused by the devices we keep in our pockets. They not only discuss why the technological advances we see on our phones, tablets, and computers were built in certain ways, but they convey worry for where continued advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) may take us as a society.

This documentary contains a lot of stories and data, but the section I found most alarming was when Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D. from the NYU Stern School of Business spoke about self-harm rising amongst teen girls. He tells viewers that the number of pre-teen and teen girls admitted to a hospital for self-harm was relatively stable until 2009 when a noticeable spike began.

The Social Dilemma / Netflix

He continues to share how the same spike could be seen with suicide. Girls between the ages of 15–19 saw an increase of 70% in suicide, and girls between the ages of 10–14 saw a 151% increase. He points this pattern to social media — Gen Z is the first generation in history to get on social media as early as middle school, often carrying access to those social media in their backpacks. This generation is more anxious, more depressed, and less comfortable with milestones that other generations have considered normal (like getting a driver's license).

Middle school is hard enough. You're going through puberty, trying to figure out who you are, making friends, having crushes — and now kids are faced with a screen that tells them what to do, what to think, and how to be "cool." Instead of moms telling their girls to not compare themselves to the swimsuit model they see on a magazine in the store, these swimsuit models are displayed at all hours of the day, with each second spent on a photo telling devices to continue sharing these images. The pressure and comparison that can too easily come from social media, especially for still-developing minds, is horrifying. And it's already having a life-threatening impact.

It terrifies me to consider future generations, who even if their parents (like many of the tech giants featured in this documentary) don't give them screens at young ages, will still be hyperaware of the world of social media and the control it has on their life. It's so easy to be cruel, exclusive, and distracted from real connection when fun, addictive screens are at your disposal. As we can see with grown adults who are battling it out in the Facebook comments every day, social media can turn previously pleasant, civil human beings into divisive products that advertisers are trying to reach.

Other generations did not grow up with a constant stream of curated content placed before them during their developing years, and we all can attest to how hateful they can be toward one another. Now think about a generation who doesn't even remember life before an Instagram like could tell them how good they looked that day. They clearly don't have many examples of how you should act on social media, and clearly displayed metrics show how "good" or "bad," "liked" or "disliked" they are.

While the rest of us — the generations who had to fire up the old home computer to log into our Facebook account for the first few years — cannot erase these pressures younger generations feel, we are not helpless in this unhealthy pattern. We are first and foremost able to set examples of appropriate conduct online. We can turn off notifications. We can have at least one day a week where we go 24 hours without our phone. We can fact check information before we click "share." We can understand that each click we provide is a vote for the information we want to see. We can resist the world-wide web's innate need to make us pawns in an AI universe.

We can look at increased self-harm and suicide rates as a call to action that we actively participate in, instead of turning a blind eye and continuing to scroll.

Report this Content
Featured

13 Ways Barbie Movies Shaped My Childhood

My childhood would not have been the same without them.

5713
Taylor Hawk

Barbie movies were a huge part of my childhood. I mean huge. If you are like me, I welcome you to take a healthy dose of nostalgia as I explain how Barbie movies shaped my childhood. The movies...

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Pride Doesn't End With June

Here's seven ways you can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community after pride month ends.

7938
Pride Doesn't End With June
Photo by Sara Rampazzo on Unsplash

As July begins, the month we call 'Pride Month' is technically over. However, just because pride month is over doesn't mean we can't still show pride and support for our LGBT brothers and sisters. This article here will tell you seven ways to be a supportive ally to the LGBTQ+ all year round.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

My 4th Of July Look

MISS SWISS - Glamour On The Go

6586
My 4th Of July Look

Whether I can get to the beach this weekend or I'm just at a friend's pool, I know I'll be picture ready. Fourth of July weekend following so close behind Pennsylvania lifting the state mask mandate has me anticipating many smiling faces, eager to capture the moment.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me

When i die spread my ashes at the Bubba Gump at Citywalk

4770
Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me
Hailey Hastings via Canva

First and foremost, I am a foodie. In any city that I am in, the first thing I want to know is where the best places to eat and drink are, and I imagine a lot of you are the same. Los Angeles happens to be one of the greatest food cities in the United States, so it's only right that I present you guys with this list. These are the best places (that I have tried) in Los Angeles to eat or drink.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Your Guide to Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well.

4519
Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well. Common issues like UTI’s, yeast infections and medications can cause vaginal dryness but one of the big culprits for both cause and prevention is diet. Supplementing your diet with nutrients and vitamins to encourage your body to produce the hormones it needs are one of the many home remedies for dryness. There are many factors that can cause dryness and the uncomfortable symptoms that come along with it, and diet is one of the big culprits on the list. Keep reading to learn about adopting nutrition habits that both alleviate and prevent dryness!

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments