Sean Duffy: As a parent of 9, here’s my take on the Facebook whistleblower testimony
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As a father of nine children aged 22-2, I know all too well the gravitational pull of social media on young people, be it Tik-Tok, Instagram, Snapchat or the ever-growing number of apps from popular social media. .
As parents, my wife Rachel and I have struggled for years with the decision and the pressure to put such an addicting device in the hands of our impressionable children.
Once we let our kids have a phone, we wondered if they were the right age and how to put limits. Since our kids are much more tech savvy than we are, we wondered if they could find ways to get around our rules and if we were doing enough to warn them about the dangers of phones, like sexual predators, pornography and filters that distort faces and perpetuate body dysmorphia and anxiety.
When our oldest was in first year in high school, we gave her her first iPhone. The next two children, now 19 and 17, were allowed to have phones in middle school in eighth grade. We now know it was a naïve and bad decision. Children should never have a smartphone before the age of 16.
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We thought we were doing the right thing by giving them a device to navigate the Duffy’s crazy family schedule and keep in touch with each other as a family. While this allows for better family communication, it also means our kids can download social media apps and start communicating with their friends and the world without our parental supervision.
The consequences have been significant. Once the phone was introduced, family time suffered and their exit from childhood accelerated. Their exposure to content we would never have approved has become inevitable.
We also noticed that they seemed less happy, more self-critical of their bodies, and even less social – which seemed counterintuitive from a product called ‘social media’.
That’s right, our kids believed they were hanging out with friends through their screens. They asked us to go out with friends a lot less than we remember begging our own parents to let us go out when we were their age.
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Across the country, children are spending countless hours a day consuming content on screens. Most of the time, they look at the posts and photos of their friends and celebrities. What most parents don’t know is that their children also receive unsolicited content curated for them by the radically liberal operators of the applications.
The consequences for the children have been catastrophic. The average age to encounter pornography online is 11 and is dropping rapidly. This has devastating effects on the way young people shape their ideas about sex and relationships. Additionally, thanks to filters and other features that distort body image, spending time on social media increases anxiety and lowers self-esteem in girls.
Thanks to the whistleblower testimony of Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, we now know that Facebook’s own internal research confirms what we parents have seen firsthand. As children increasingly use social media apps like Instagram (owned by Facebook), their feelings of loneliness, isolation, depression, self-hatred and rejection increase.
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Despite having hard data proving the emotional and psychological toll their platform is taking on the mental health of an entire generation, Facebook has chosen to hide its findings from parents.
Worse yet, rather than protecting our children, they used the data gleaned from our children’s interactions with their product to create features and algorithms for actually to augment the time our children spend on their platforms. Why would they do something so pernicious? It’s simple. Profit.
The more time young people spend on the platform, the more money Mark Zuckerberg and his shareholders earn from digital advertisers. This is the same profit calculation that cigarette companies made generations ago when they learned about the health risks of their product, especially to children.
Without action from Congress and the social media platform itself, what should parents do? Well, one of the benefits of a large brood that spans over 20 years is that you get a second chance. Rachel and I have learned from our rookie parenting mistakes and are determined not to start over with the younger ones.
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First, we now know for sure that social media is bad for the health and safety of our children. We don’t give them cigarettes, why would we give them a phone? These applications are designed to entice them and entice them to spend more time on their phones and less time having real relationships with their family and friends. It takes them away from their studies, their good books and their authentic life.
Finally, we now understand that social media is not just about young children communicating and sharing messages and photos with each other. Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are also the most powerful tool on the left, and they constantly bring content to my kids that doesn’t match our family’s morals and values. Without any solicitation, they push sexualized content, radical gender ideology, socialism and Marxism to my children.
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After a year of zooming school, parents realized the left’s mission to indoctrinate their children. Many good parents are fighting against dangerous school boards, teachers and programs in our public schools.
But what too many parents don’t realize is that our children’s phones and social media apps can do more harm than their Marxist teachers and professors could ever do in the classroom. American children are inundated with radical far-left ideology of the social media titans of Silicon Valley and the millennial content curators who work for them.
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It’s terrifying to know that there are people out there who want to reprogram my children by molding them into social justice activist robots and separating them from the religious and cultural values that my wife and I work hard to instill in them. Fortunately, my family’s solution was simple: just say no to the phones.
This has not been easy. Our college student constantly pleads her cause. She will tell you that we have ruined her life. There is no doubt that there are times when she feels left out of her peers. I do not care. His health and safety are more important.
And why on earth would I give the radical left unsupervised access to my children and help them in their mission to indoctrinate them and separate them from the conservative values of our family? Difficult pass on that one.
When the time comes to finally give them a phone, it won’t be a smartphone, it will be a good ol ‘flip phone that can’t connect to social media platforms that intend to destroy their childhood and innocence.
As for my high school students with a smartphone, all is not lost. I’ve learned how to install apps that limit their daily use to exactly how long I think is appropriate for them. When they hit the limit, their social networks simply shut down until the next day or week.
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I also made taking my teenage phones off my favorite form of punishment. Taking their phones away for days, if not weeks, gives them a “fast” social network that is in fact Well for them.
After getting over the anger, boredom, and restlessness, they start to find better things to do – like reading or (panting!) Talking and interacting with humans. If you’re lucky, your teen may even admit, like I once did, that he feels happier without his phone.