Social media addiction having deadly results among youth

Kelowna website owner says excessive social media reliance is causing a surge in suicide rates.

The last nine years have often left Janice Taylor feeling like a voice of caution drowned out in the wilderness of social media.

The creator of Mazu, an app that helps young people safely transition to online life, been cautioning about social media addiction, and how it’s negatively impacting the mental health of children.

Taylor first started taking notice of the affect social media had on her own two children, now ages 11 and 14.

“Several years ago I started to look around at digital and social media and noticed there was no barrier to entry. Everyone can get in and are exposed to information that can go against our own family values, and create attitude behaviours that have consequences and go beyond those basic family values that most of us adhere to.”

Related: Investors urge Apple to take action against child gadget addiction

One of those consequences, she says, is a recent surge in suicide rates, which she says is fed by a social media image of what a young person is supposed to be, an image of perfection that is both unrealistic, patently false for the purpose of marketing and wipes away a persons’s own sense of individuality and uniqueness.

“Social media often reflects one dimension of a person based on perfection, when the reality is all children are mult-faceted and unique. Not one thing describes who they are, they are bouquet of many things that make up who they are. But social media…reinforces negativity on steroids,” she said.

She cited a study released in the U.S. last week that reflected an overall, 25 per cent increase in suicide, with every state registering an increase in people taking their own lives compared to a decade ago.

While the study reflected on various mental health issues that are behind the suicide rate increase, Taylor feels what was missing was any correlation to social media addiction.

“For children, social media addiction is like pouring gasoline on wounds they already carry inside,” Taylor said.

“That’s why I feel there is such a sharp increase in suicide. Our youth addiction to social media creates a strong sense of reality around what they feel is the negative portion of themselves and it becomes a powerful message that is constantly reinforced.”

Taylor said from the beginning, spreading her message to others in the tech community was met with little support.

“It’s all about the economics. We are all told to drink the Kool-Aid and have the time of your life. How great it is to be connected to everyone in the world you know and many more you don’t know.

“But what I learned very quickly from my time working in the Silicon Valley environment it’s all about what you can make the most money at. What they figured out is how to steal away your personal time and attention, and make money at it.

“The rest of can think this is all free, and wow isn’t it great. But nothing is for free. You are the product. You are the rat in the experiment wheel. That may be okay for adults, but it’s not okay for our kids.”

Related: Parents need to put down their phones

Taylor said of late she is starting to her other voices besides hers in the high-tech wilderness starting to speak out about the damaging side-effects to our obsession of living our lives online.

“I am starting to see a fundamental shift in our attitude towards social media, which for me I have been waiting for nine years to see,” Taylor said.

“Social media is engineered to feed on your fears and insecurities. A system built on that premise will in time implode. And I think we are just starting finally to see the tip of the iceberg of that.”

Related: ‘The twits tweeting’ aren’t saying as much as they used to

When Taylor, a Kelowna resident born and raised in Regina, Sask., left the pharmaceutical industry to start up her own online business venture, the end result was mazufamily.com, a website built upon extolling positive family values, a social sharing and messaging platform for families.

She feels youth under the age of 15 should be limited in social media device use, and not spend their time on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or YouTube.

“I believe there is a direct correlation among the increase in suicide among teenage girls related to self-esteem and body issues, and increased acts of violence among teenage boys, and what they are exposed to through social media.”

Taylor said she understands how for parents, social media devices offer a diversion from the demands and stress of raising children 24/7. What we aim for with Mazu is to interject some balance between the love and fears in the lives of our children.

When it comes to being addicted to social media, there is an over-exposure to fear and not enough love.

“We don’t always need to be advertised to, sold to. There are times we may need or want that, but other times we don’t.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Shag Creek area under evacuation order, area expanded

93 properties are being told to evacuate immediately

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at Victoria’s CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

Most Read