Profile picture
Q
, 126 tweets, 94 min read Read on Twitter
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
-
-
Love seeing more and more threads on this matter.

Please see Dr Howard's (@DrAndreaHoward) thread below:

Also sad that this book 'Parents, Media and Panic through the Years: Kids Those Days', by @KarenLeick, isn't available from my university.

May have to splash some cash...

@vjrideout has also written a lot on this topic. E.g.,

blogs.lse.ac.uk/parenting4digi…
@asklauraknight argues that *modelling* positive social/mobile/tech use is important, and 'demonising it or pathologising it does not serve the needs of young people growing up in today’s society'


Similar to my point above (, etc.)
@annecollier references @mediatrician & how removing the device would not deal with underlying issues ... "The goal is not abstinence but self-regulation”

@B_resnick wrote about his explorations into the topic in this vox article - vox.com/science-and-he…

@CJFerguson1111 & @patmarkey wrote again recently too, in this piece for the inquirer -

philly.com/opinion/commen…
Seems like loads of stuff came out around the same time, here's another article on the matter - psyarxiv.com/cwt8x/ (by @davidaellis)
Also this older thread by @patmarkey () which raises clear concerns about the use of *self-reporting* for screen time.

We know that people can be notoriously bad at self-reporting for pretty much everything -
A whole host of leisure (etc) activities (link.springer.com/article/10.100…)

Calorie intake and exercise levels (nejm.org/doi/full/10.10…)

Voting (academic.oup.com/ijpor/article/…)

Media exposure (academic.oup.com/poq/article/73…)

& ofc mobile phone use (academic.oup.com/jcmc/article/1…, journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.11…)
@patmarkey also highlights the benefits of social media including feeling of connection, inclusion, etc - vital for those who may feel alone.

And logical that those *who may feel lonely would seek out a connected space such as social media*

Jürgens, Stark, and Magin (2019) also discuss self-reporting (journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.11…)

- majority who say they're online for 2 hr + actually spend much less time
- those who don’t think they use the Internet much ... exhibit negative bias, (they underestimate time spent)
- more
Slightly tangential thread here on outlandish claims that social media somehow leads to increase in gangs and crimes ?!



As always, happy to be corrected, but seriously seems like that's a stretch.
@dramypollard highlights the *social*, thought-centred aspects of social media.

She also reminds of other moral panics through history, such as writing, books, radio, & television (I mention some of these & others above e.g., )

huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/social-m…
Dr Pollard's other account (@AmyRPollard).

See this fantastic report, with help from @annawarhurst and many others!

"There are no #PhoneZombies"

mentalhealthcollective.org.uk/wp-content/upl…
Just a reminder via @Jessicae13Eaton about #Momo /the #MomoChallenge, which I also wrote about nearer the time.

Literally no evidence, the people sharing were mainly those most against social media and smartphones. Hmmmm...

& because I can never get enough of this study shared by @Winthernet

"New UK study finds that increased mobile use by children does not seem to displace family activities like eating together or watching TV ..."

@nibzy & @OrbenAmy discuss research on social media and emotional wellbeing here

Also fantastic and clear explanation on some of the issues with previous research.
*Another* reminder that there have been #moralpanics whenever new technology is introduced/becomes more ubiquitous

E.g., Reading and Bicycles referenced by @PessimistsArc here


So all those #technophobes annoyed at smartphones but loving on books -
Even less than 100 years ago *your* love of books would have seemed outrageous to some.
@BritDavidson also spoke on 'digital detoxes' and the discordance between perceived habits & actual usage of tech in this interview -

Adding this thread I made on the media's portrayal of research as being less than stellar -

Another great contribution from @SaRoseCav -



Particularly important reflection on this: it is very important to rebuke the counterfactual fear-mongering of some. Equally important is to raise solutions to people's concerns, and discuss real issues ...
... around tech.

I have raised some (data, privacy, power, fake news, etc) and also agree that school's should choose their phone policy. I'd prefer it to be based on facts rather than myths.

We must correct the false dichotomy of "All or Nothing" -
Following on from the point I made earlier about the unreliability of self-reported social media use (e.g., ) - in particular when relying upon retrospective recollection.
As in most health research, there are a few methods to alleviate this. One is using a contemporaneous diary, another is an electronic measurement which is less prone to human error.

@OrbenAmy and @ShuhBillSkee in their recent study (journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/09…) consider these issues
They too point to the pitfalls of relying on self-reporting -
To that end, data sets from three countries (Ireland, the US, and the UK) were tested (see results pp 6-8).
Subsequently, five hypotheses were considered, using the Millennium Cohort Study (UK). With results tables -
A 'smallest effect size of interest' (SESOI) was proposed at 0.10. That is, digital-engagement associations that explained <1% of well-being outcomes were judged, a priori, as being too modest in practical terms to be worthy of extended scientific discussion.

Discussion points -
Overall, there is essentially agreement with previous research that shows a possibly small negative association, but one that - in practical terms - will not cause noticeable well-being issues.
See @OrbenAmy’s summary here

Much better than mine, and includes 🐢.
Good to see some from the media picking up on this - e.g.,@ruskin147

More media attention from the article, this time from @alexhern

Can also add to the many cross-national suicide trends above that of #Scotland (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…), again showing that the 15-19 age (youngest available) do not have an increase in suicide rates in recent years.

Again, no causal evidence w/social media etc.
Data from #Turkey too (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…) though only for the period 2007-2012.

Still, no noticeable increase in suicide rates in those under 19 years of age.
More long-term data from #Turkey

Those under 15 have the lowest rates, with numbers (note, not rate) between 2007 and 2013 remaining steady.

Those between 15-24 always had high rates, growing since 1990s, seemingly declining since 2003/2004.

content.sciendo.com/view/journals/…
@OrbenAmy and @MeasureRadio discuss the research on ‘screen time’.

Incl.
Issues of self-reporting, differentiating *how* screens are used, and how this simply isn’t an accurate representation of what we use technology for.

Summary of recent paper by @tdienlin, @OrbenAmy, and @ShuhBillSkee also found here

Not surprising at all.
Interesting new article highlighting self-reporting of screen time and actual behaviour.

sciencedirect.com/science/articl…

@BritDavidson @davidaellis @H_Shawberry @Kris_geyer

summary -
"↑ levels of reported depression correlated with individual's checking their phone less over a week ... the notion of reducing ‘screen time’ & technology may be counter-intuitive, as a sudden reduction in smartphone use may in fact be an early warning sign of social withdrawal"
Back to the Ellis, et al. (2019) article -
On smart phone/tech 'addition' (without having to point out how ludicrous it is to compare drug addition to tech usage - NO one is giving illegal drugs to children to test such a hypothesis) cf.

akademiai.com/doi/pdf/10.155…
Since I found this thread again, may as well as this from @PessimistsArc



#MoralPanic
A decent amount on video games has been done recently, and since they too are often placed in the same bucket as ‘screens’(?) happy to include here too -

Always good to see summaries like these

Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Q
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!