I'm underwhelmed by your causal evidence. You are proposing that social media has destroyed an entire generation. This is a massive effect. Feeling a little better after stopping social media usage does not provide evidence for an effect of this scale. You could say the same thing about television, and, in fact, many people did!

And what about the quality of these studies? Given the replication crisis, psych isn't especially known for its empirical rigor. How many of these experiments have been replicated? How many have been pre-registered? What's the sample size? Are there corrections for multiple regression? Do you believe there might be publication bias? Why not? If you want researchers to take your claims seriously, you need to answer these questions. I'd love to see a Scott Alexander type post where every single study is discussed Ad Nauseum. This doesn't seem like too much to ask given the size of the claim that you are making.

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I did not see that Mr. Haidt claimed anywhere that “social media has destroyed an entire generation.” Rather, he argues that social media is harming the mental health of teens. He makes some rather mild proposals, such as flip phones for kids and no phones in schools, among others.

Certainly, there are other reasons for declining mental health amongst our youth. Lockdowns were terrible, particularly among economically disadvantaged kids. Do we need a study to know that closing libraries, basketball courts, and after school programs would hurt kids? Nonetheless, the fact that there are many causes for the poor mental health of children does not make Mr. Haidt’s observations and recommendations any less valid, particularly when compared to chalking everything up to racism and disadvantage.

The television comparison doesn’t work very well, unless there were classrooms somewhere in which every desk and school bus had televisions running Gilligan’s Island on a loop. Of course, then as now, there were families with televisions in every room and others that restricted viewing. TV did not need to destroy a generation to show that the children of homes that restricted television gave their kids a leg up on their peers who spent life in front of their electronic babysitters.

I am all for more rigorous studies. In the meantime, parents and schools would do well to heed Mr. Haidt’s advice.

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Proposals for remedy should not include attempting to put the toothpaste back in the tube. That is almost always futile. We need to go forward through our difficulties.

They should also not depend on government above the state level.

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