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A little thread, which I may come back to, for all those #technophobes who blame rise in #suicide on #socialmedia.

First: legit, what rise?
Second: The actual experts do not agree with you, and your fear-mongering is likely causing more harm than good.
cf. Thomas, K, and Gunnell, D. (2010). Suicide in England and Wales 1861–2007: a time-trends analysis. International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 39, Issue 6, December 2010, Pages 1464–1475.
So, first the data, from #UK (above) and elsewhere (below).

Clearly if this epidemic was *caused* by a *single* factor it would permeate all societies with social media.

[Suicide Rates for Teens Aged 15–19 Years, by Sex — United States, 1975–2015, #USA]
But that is simply not the case, some countries *have* had increase, but others stable, others decrease. It's almost like the problem is more complex?

[suicide rates for 15-19 year olds in #Japan, #Mexico, #Lithuania, #NewZealand, #Finland, #Norway, and #Iceland].
See also Heffer, T, et al (2019). The Longitudinal Association Between Social-Media Use and Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents and Young Adults: An Empirical Reply to Twenge et al. (2018). Clinical Psychological Science
As an aside, young people today are actually slightly happier than young people in the 1990s. And adolescents report better wellbeing on days they are more connected digitally. See @GelgiaF , commenting on @candice_odgers @GESForum #GESF ()
Suicide *is* a problem, it *is* something we should talk about. But blaming social media and feeling like you're done can be a distraction from underlying causes, see @patmarkey tweets incl. & @GelgiaF again
Is that to say negative experiences w/ social media is not a one (of many) causes for some? Of course not!

But we should be tackling online harassment (etc.) which makes a toxic environment, and generally teaching *all* to use tech more positively.
Many have pointed out the fallacy of inference (e.g., that it cannot be ruled out that those who are more likely to suffer from depression *seek out* social media, thus using it more) cf. @TomHollenstein ()
A rational response would be to identify 'at risk' children and help support them, and their parents, rather than blaming/banning tech for all (cf. @ldsteinberg, & @PlayNiceInst, [whole thread is important])
Since banning - in essence - doesn't work anyway.

Or, at least there is not evidence it does (@Livingstone_S, )

=another aside on video games =
And, in the words of one scholar, 'charlatans use junk science to profit off our anxieties' when it comes to tech (@ShuhBillSkee , ), since it's easy to blame 'Smartphones' etc. ()
Basically, if anyone is telling you about a specific, fixed, limit on "screen time" (whatever that is, ) or "smartphones" - be that a politician, journalist, or teacher - know that they are basing their opinion on subjective experience and fear.
i.e., often those least informed (who peddle hoaxes which fit their narrative - , , incl. wrt crime - my thread )

Also, check if claims make sense (e.g., dopamine, cf. @lieberothdk, )
I think *another* issue with this #Technopanic is that it deviates away from genuine concerns about things like power, privacy, use of data, and generally how to create and maintain a positive online environment.

Restricting and banning will likely lead to ignorance and misuse.
Since we can all agree that young people are *not* innately experts and need to be taught. How should it be any different with responsible use of technology?

I mean ofc I would prefer that to come from individuals who don't have literally no idea how it all works either. #momo
And, probably uncontroversial, I am in favour of schools choosing to not allow phones in the classroom for this (and other) reasons.
What's that #technophobes? You want more cross-national #data?

How about we look at the countries with some of the highest social media penetration? dw.com/en/countries-w… & wearesocial.com/global-digital… [slide 66]
#Taiwan (social media penetration [SMP] 89%)
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…
#Australia [72%], #US [70%], #Japan [61%], and #HongKong [78%] -
Still looking for #UAE (SMP 99%), but no doubt whatever it shows it will fall in line with everything above.
=aside= I have already managed to find a number of good resources via twitter, will use this thread to continue to reference them too.

E.g., the @guardian article referenced here by @cormac114



@amandaj3rd has also made some good points.
#Dubai, with about 1/3 - 1/2 the population of #UAE, and apparently a 99% #SocialMedia penetration[?!].

What does #Suicide trend look like there?

journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.11…
According to sciencedirect.com/science/articl… the annual rate was 6.2/100,000 between 1992 and 2000 ... which was before social media was a thing, really.
According to sciencedirect.com/science/articl… the age-standardised rate was 2.8 in 2010 and 2.7 in 2016

So, between 1992 and 2016 suicide rate has fluctuated between about 2.7 to about 8 per 100,000. With the *Lowest* suicide rate being in the most recent years (remember 99% SMP!).
In fact, looking at sciencedirect.com/science/articl… more closely what do we find between 2010 and 2016 across #Asia?

35 countries have seen a #decrease in #suicide rates, 12 countries have seen an #increase, and 4 have seen no change (literally 0, not including +-0.1, say).
Hypothesised this might be the case, but I'm going to momentarily act like the #technophobes love to do and argue (NOTE: I DO NOT ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS)

Lower #socialmedia penetration CAUSES increased #suicide rate. OMG!
UNBAN #MOBILE #PHONES!
GET EVERYONE ON TIK TOK!
=Since I'm now using this thread as a repository of articles, tweets, etc. on social media=

This a good article (again by *actual* experts @OrbenAmy & @ShuhBillSkee) theconversation.com/social-media-i…

And this is also a must-read (by @candice_odgers)
nature.com/articles/d4158…
Should have been enough that the Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk ) stated:

"[T]here isn’t enough scientific evidence of a link between screen time and health problems but more research into the impact of social media is needed"

But what about #Depression and #SocialMedia, I hear the #technophobes proclaim.

Well comparing 43 countries using ourworldindata.org/mental-health & the previous link on social media penetration ...

There is a very weak negative correlation.

LACK OF SOCIAL MEDIA LEADS TO DEPRESSION!
(once again, I *do not* actually believe that for one second, but it's the kind of ill logic that #moralpanic #technophobes have spouted for far too long and has gone unchecked).
@TomChivers has written a fantastic piece on social media and suicide here - unherd.com/2019/02/do-we-…
Tech can be useful in tackling mental health problems theguardian.com/society/2018/j…
And once again, as @suicideresearch & others note, we simply cannot allow social media to become a scapegoat. Need better protection & support in all spheres. See: suicideresearch.info/news-1/youthsu…

Trying to find research by @gallagherjs on suicide prevention and social media too?
As if all of the above wasn't enough, I think it's important to remember the arbitrariness of #technophobe selection of dates - often only considering more recent data as 'proving' social media leads to a plethora of the world's ills [it don't]. I may be showing my age here but -
All of the following social media [etc.] platforms have existed for ... ages ...

Friends Reunited - c. 2000
Friendster - c. 2002
Myspace, Piczo - c. 2003
Bebo - c. 2005
Twitter, Facebook - c. 2006
Instagram - c. 2010
Snapchat - c. 2011
Vine - c. 2013
TikTok - c. 2016
More on the (potential) utility of social media for suicide prevention from Robinson, J., et al., 2015. Social media and suicide prevention: a systematic review. Early Intervention in Psychiatry 10.2, 103-121 -

onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.111…
Given the recent piece by Twenge, I suppose I'm going to have to do this now.

Share of population with depression (%) over time for *every* country.

Data from: ourworldindata.org/grapher/number… (MORE than happy to work with more robust data).

Starting with A and B -
C, D, and E.
F, G, and H.

Also downloaded the WHO Suicide rate estimates, age-standardized, by country [2000-2015] {here: apps.who.int/gho/data/view.…}

You'll never guess what trend *that* data shows (I'll get to it soon enough).
I, J, K, and L.

It's amazing how, with population increase, selective choice of data (time, place), and only discussion raw numbers you can make it seem like literally minimal (or even no/negative) rates are huge.
E.g. I could play the same game as others -

"HALF a MILLION more people in Japan suffer from depressive symptoms compare to 20 years ago!!11"

Doesn't that sound like an awful increase? Obviously technology is at fault [because #logic]!
& all the other countries
As well as one for the world average
Bad inferences 101 -

World depressive symptoms were rising until 2000, when social media started properly. Slowly, due to the marvelous powers of social media, these rates decreased. Twitter & Facebook with their omnipresence sparked the greatest decline.

Sound ridiculous?
Likewise, for worldwide suicide rates.

Source: WHO Suicide rate estimates, age-standardized, by country [2000-2015], available here apps.who.int/gho/data/view.… & apps.who.int/gho/data/view.…
Dear @DataReportal, is there a way of downloading the underlying data on social media trends that you have collected?

@IHME_UW - your Global Health Data Exchange is super useful! Hoping to utilise it more in the future for specific age cohorts not covered in my above posts!
A couple more for now -

Active Global #SocialMedia users as a % of total #population (Jan #2019) vs #Suicide Rate (per 100,000) (2016).
& some specific trends in age cohort 15-19, based on GHDx (@IHME_UW), for *all* depressive symptoms.
Please note also that Dr Twenge (@jean_twenge) has made some interesting responses in support of the causal association between SM & adverse effects.

see:



&
Important to remember that *all* care about the health and well-being of young people.
Also always looking for more data!

E.g., More on Australia - ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subsc…
& abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.…

Also *incredibly* helpful are these resources shared by @amandaj3rd
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