Parents: Is social media killing our kids / truth / democracy?

This has some overlap with the AI/kids thread, but I think is somewhat different and warrants a separate discussion. A podcast I listened to today and found shocking. 39 minutes worth listening to, particularly if you are a parent.

Did you know that 54% of American teenagers who use social media more than 4 hrs a day believe that Jews rule the world? Did you know that it takes 8 minutes on social media before a teenage girl is suggested some content about self-harm? Did you know that if your user profile suggests that you want to lose weight, you receive 12 times more content about self-harm? The algorithms have gone insane, and there is a severe lack of regulation in social media.

We have two teenage kids. Both use social media. We (try to) regulate overall online time. Frankly, they spend a lot of time on the phone and it feels like we cannot really do much about it.

How do you handle this? Do you allow your kid to use social media? Do you try to regulate it?

This parents guide is quite instructive:

And here the podcast:

Host Reed Galen is joined by Imran Ahmed, the Founder and CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). They discuss CCDH’s latest legal victory against Elon Musk and Twitter, why our democracy’s stability is threatened by unregulated social media platforms and accompanying disinformation, and why balancing innovation with safety and prosperity is crucial for the future of technology and society. For more on this, be sure to check out the work of Imran Ahmed and CCDH…especially their Parent’s Guide and recent PSA discussed in this episode.


Same here. It’s nightmare.

Sometimes I try and start discussions at the dinner table with regards to something going on in the world they may find thought-provoking or otherwise interesting.

When the sum total of their news sources is Tik Tok and other dubious sources, it soon becomes a pointless discussion of untruths and conspiracy theories.
Children still seem to think that if they watch something online, it must be true.
At least they are not into Twitter (x) yet.


I encouraged (read: forced) ours to subscribe to SRF, ZDF and CNN so that at least there is some real news in their feeds. Believe it or not, occasionally they even mention something they have seen on there.

What I personally do on Twitter is (1) avoid the “for you” feed and always stay on “followed”, and (2) subscribe to a wide range of feeds, from the ones I sympathize with to really kooky ones. I guess one needs a bit of maturity for this.

It´s the beginning of the robot uprising, they have found out that Terminator style robots are not the way to extinct humanity. They have found a better way… Get the young humans stupid and let them kill themselves.


“They” being (1) money-hungry narcissistic tech bros, and (2) Chinese and Russian interest in undermining Western societies by sowing division and falsehoods.

As interesting as this is generally, I’d frankly like a parent-focused discussion.

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Same here. We have two kids and its a constant struggle. In the beginning I tried to “regulate” this via asking them for self-control (eg. we agreed 60 min per day of Brawlstars). After a week they, were averaging more than double. Then I tried to push them towards more “wholesome” content, but when I looked at the report a week later it was 90% Brawlstars again.

So we went for a hard-limit: 60 min of gaming per day, 30 min of youtube and ONLY after homework is done and verified by an adult. No limit on whatsapp, spotify and currently Instagram. Initially they had no limit on youtube either, but then I realized they are like drug addicts watching “shorts” for hours and I thought “this cannot be good for attention time span”, so hard limit on this too.

It pains me as I really want them to be able to exercise self-control, but I guess (hope?) its too early and I’d need to step in.

Would love ideas from other parents, how do you try to get them to self-control?

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Ok, I`m with you here. But here are my two cents. In the house where I live are two kids who will each be 13 next month, eastern European and Italian stock. Both have access to the internet via phone and both use it day for day. What I have noticed is that the parents are limiting the access and checking their accounts. Not daily but once every two weeks or so and as far as I can tell there doesn´t seem to be a problem. Believe me I would hear the nuclear explosions from downstairs should something be amiss.
That means it can be done, what kids see or don´t see can be controlled but I don´t think that overbearing government intervention is the way forward, perhaps parents need to do more instead of waiting for some creaky old politician does something stupid and ruins it for everybody.

If your kids have iPhones or iPads there is a surprising amount of control you can exercise using a console on your iPhone. It may seem a little daunting to set up, but once you do it only requires minor tweaking e.g an extra 30 mins screen time on weekends or as a treat.

I hate to even describe it as a treat, I’d rather spoonfeed them sugar for doing their homework but I have to be a realist :man_shrugging:t2:

I do agree with Dr Haidt (I linked the podcast on the other thread) when he questions the malign intentions of the CCP. Our kids TikTok feeds have idiots eating dogfood for likes or girls twerking, whilst kids in China are fed clips of Chinese astronauts and engineers.

Unlimited Instagram is where your approach fails.

We don’t limit access, only time. But limits get softer on weekends and the older they get. My gut tells me to restrict more. My brain tells me that they need to learn to live with it.

Last week he was at less than 40 min total for the week on instagram. I also know what he follows and who follows him, I’m not worried yet about it. I will adjust if things change, like brawlstars, but no need yet.

I guess there’s no one right approach and its a constant readjustment and turf war

We’re on android and there’s something called Family Link which is brilliant. Sets controls on apps, timing, gives you frequent report on usage broken down at app level, websites visited, etc

I asked my daughter about the self-harm thing today. She says she is often being suggested content on it, but ignores it.

I hope this is a sign of honesty and maturity. She is barely 14.

I take a very simple approach: no TV in the house. No phones for the kids.

The problem is now that kids get ipads for school, so we take these and supervise usage.

Kids have no self-control. Heck, adults have no self-control. The only thing you can do is remove the temptation.

You can also turn off the WiFi.

Stalins approach:) no people, no problem:)

I guess it works, but aren’t you worried that 1) you’re depriving them from a learning opportunity 2) all their friends have it and it could make them feel left out?

At least these were my concerns when we discussed with my wife and she suggested your approach

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My oldest is 14, which means that Google Family Link doesn’t work on her smartphone anymore (in CH kids get control over their Google accounts when they turn 13). My husband installed a third party app Time Limit, which she was abusing by turning the clock back and getting more usage time. Luckily, it’s an open source app, so my husband can change the code of this app. I think he managed to fix this problem somehow. The youngest is 9 and he, like many other boys from his class, is obsessed with Fortnite. Luckily, I found out that Microsoft has very good tools to manage kids accounts both on X-Box and in Windows. Since I set up the fixed daily time for particular games, we stopped having arguments about that. And the Google Family Link will still work on his old tablet for another 4 years before he turns 13, so I have no problem controlling his usage of YouTube and other android apps.

I don’t think they are affected by social media yet. The youngest watches some YouTube shorts, which are rather stupid and boring, than harmful, and the oldest seems to understand the main issues of the modern digital world pretty well. We have regular talks with her on this topic.

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Damn, wasn’t aware of that! We have less than a year then. Thanks for the tip on the 3rd party app. And second the opinion on Microsoft. We have an xbox at home and the older one has a windows laptop the control app for a child account is really well made. I barely changed the default settings

We used this when they were younger. Now disabled. Which led to discussions between me and my wife …

That is terrible to hear she’s being suggested such awful content. But good to hear that she says she ignores it. I really hope she does. I would hate to be a kid today with the social media pressures amplifying the age-old teenage pressures.

I’m surprised that your kids use Instagram. I got an impression that it is considered “uncool”, especially among boys. The impression on the face of my son when I mentioned that I saw something on someone’s Instagram was unforgettable. :grinning:

I honestly lost the overview of what apps are hot today. I think Snap and TikTok, but then they call me boomer. Which my parents are.

What do you mean by “self-harm” content? I never saw it on the Internet. I know that the girls can get false role model and get eating disorder and become anorexic, but what else? Of course, if a kid searches for self-harmful or suicidal things, they will certainly find it.