Preying on Adolescent Girls

Social media is to emotional health as cigarettes are to physical health

One of my sons was working as a youth pastor during the years before and after the introduction of the iPhone. He can tell you stories, as someone who was working on the front-lines of youth culture, about how its introduction totally altered the group social dynamics of adolescents.

Over the next few years, as social media use began to really saturate the relationships and mind space of young people, observers began to notice some unsettling changes emerging within the adolescent community. Depression, self-hatred and harm, along with other psychiatric pathologies, seemed to be ever more prevalent in the lives of young people.

For a while, though these pathologies correlated with the rise of social media use, people were cautious about concluding that social media itself was the actual cause of the uptick in psychiatric problems.

Now, Jonathan Haidt and his collaborators are making the case from the data that it has become painfully clear: social media is actually a major cause underlying the epidemic of mental health problems in adolescents, and this is most pronounced where adolescent females are concerned.

Social Media is a Major Cause of the Mental Illness Epidemic in Teen Girls. Here’s The Evidence.
Journalists should stop saying that the evidence is just correlational

For at least two generations we have been conditioned not to speak of distinctions between males and females.  We have been hectored and gaslighted against ever noticing that men and women are something other than interchangeable parts. We must not notice any social, emotional, or psychological differences, we are constantly warned. If we do notice them, above all things we must never openly acknowledge or comment on any differences we may have observed.

Now, at this very moment, we are under pressure to pretend that even the differences between male and female biology do not exist.  And to prove it, young women - especially but not exclusively - are being encouraged and enabled to quite literally carve their anatomical womanly distinctives away.

The reticence to speak openly of male/female differences, something that has been propagandized incessantly, has, in this horrible instance, contributed to adolescent girls being left unprotected and exposed.  By denying obvious and easily observable characteristics of young females, we have blinded ourselves to their danger and been derelict in their time of need.

It isn't that boys are not also negatively affected by social media use, but the data suggests a highly differentiated susceptibility. Boys, according to the data, are more resilient up to a point.  Girls seem to have little resilience at all to social media exposure.  Awkward, but that seems to be what the data shows.

For the safety of our daughters, we are going to have to recover the ability to speak openly and honestly about how the emotional/psychological sensibilities of girls varies from that of boys.  We must openly acknowledge how those differences create elevated vulnerabilities for girls in some contexts. Girls are more attuned and sensitive to social dynamics, more relational and observant in social contexts. We should stop leaving them unprotected and uncared for merely because acknowledging uniquely female vulnerabilities might be politically incorrect.

One would think that the origin story found in the book of Genesis in the Bible, had we remembered it and pondered it more deeply, might have produced insights into why such differences between males and females exist.  It might have even pointed to the possibility of the sexes having unique and distinctive roles, different contributions to make as together they bear God's image and exercise dominion in the world. Maybe the designer of the human race crafted men and women in ways that are suitable and unique to the purposes for which God created each respective sex. Maybe the sexes are both desperately needed in all their distinctive and separate affinities, but are not completely overlapping in orientation and sensibility. And, just maybe, that's a very good thing.

Maybe the differences between men and women are deep and profound and *gasp* intentional.  And maybe a petulant refusal to acknowledge all of this has contributed to devastating the lives of millions of young women. Maybe getting over any reticence to openly speak the truth about the differences between sexes, in our churches and schools and communities, is a helpful first step toward offering actual protection to young women at risk. And maybe silence on these differences amounts to moral cowardice.

Woke egalitarianism is harming young women because men and women are just not the same.

Oh, and social media accounts should be illegal for anyone under the age of 21.

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