The targeting of America’s youth through social media is a crisis, Dr. Phil McGraw said last week.
McGraw, the host of the TV show “Dr. Phil,” was a guest on a recent podcast hosted by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Cruz noted that “the pressures that are on our kids right now are qualitatively different from what we experienced.”
“I mean, they’re just assaulted online with social media. They’re confronted with themes and messaging and influence that is deliberately poisoning them, and what about that worries you? And what should parents be doing about that?” he said.
“Well, a lot about it worries me because it’s, it’s not just that there’s competing information out there,” McGraw said.
“Our children today — and if I sound like a conspiracy nut, let me tell you, I’m not a conspiracy nut — and I ask anybody that’s listening to my voice right now, I’ve — you said I’ve written nine books. That’s true,” he said.
“One of the things I talk about is the fact that our children aren’t just being exposed, they’re being targeted,” he said.
“And when I say targeted, I wrote a book in, I think, 2004 called ‘Family First.’ And at that time, I said the family in America is under attack, that families in America are under attack. The family unit, the family values, everything that families stand for in America are under attack. This was 20 years ago. Let me tell you, it is so much worse now than it was then,” he said.
McGraw said the way social media sites act is a major threat to children.
“People don’t understand algorithms, including me. But I got myself in touch with experts that do understand this, and good example of what I’m talking about,” he said.
“Research was done where they put together some accounts, put a girl’s name on it, 14 years old, just her name, 14 years old, opened this account. And within a matter of a few hours, she started getting targeted with toxic information. By that, I mean, information that led her to eating disorder sites, suicidality sites, different kinds of things that were really unhealthy,” he said.
“They said, ‘Woah, that’s really shocking.’ And, so, they said, ‘Well, let’s push this a little further.’ They opened another account with a name and just added a few words that said ‘weight loss.’ The amount of toxic feed that went to her, content that went to her, went up multiplicatively within the first few hours. The algorithm picked up those words, and what they do is, they feed you what you will click on. So, it was like eight, 10 times more toxic information,” he said.
McGraw said attacks on children erode society.
“And if you want to create chaos in a society, where do you start? You attack the children,” he said.
“If you get them to hate themselves, be questioned who they are, what they are, what’s that going to do to the next generation and the next generation? And right now, we have the highest levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness among our young people,” he said.
“A longitudinal cohort study of U.S. adolescents aged 12–15 (n=6,595) that adjusted for baseline mental health status found that adolescents who spent more than 3 hours per day on social media faced double the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes including symptoms of depression and anxiety,” the advisory said.
A study posted on the website of the Mayo Clinic noted, “The risks might be related to how much social media teens use,” adding that a “2019 study of more than 12,000 13- to 16-year-olds in England found that using social media more than three times a day predicted poor mental health and well-being in teens.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.