AFT Releases New Report Connecting Social Media to Mental Health Crisis

Last month, the American Federation of Teachers, along with the American Psychological Association, Fairplay, ParentsTogether and Design It For Us, released a new, groundbreaking report pointing to social media companies as a “root cause” of the nationwide mental health crisis. 

The report, entitled “Likes vs. Learning: The Real Cost of Social Media for Schools,” outlines how social media have put a significant burden on educators and parents trying to navigate the prevalent and sometimes predatory influence of social media. The report also includes recommendations and reforms that tech companies could and should to protect children and preserve safe learning environments. 

The five basic recommendations are as follows: 

  1. Prioritize safety for children. 
  2. Protect students from overuse and addictive-like behavior. 
  3. Protect students’ privacy. 
  4. Protect students from risky algorithms. 
  5. Directly engage and work with schools and families.

At school, educators are on the front lines of the mental health crisis, and school districts have had to expend significant resources to confront some of the issues that social media has created on campus such as dangerous viral challenges and cyberbullying. The report outlines how social media companies can take steps to improve their platforms.

A preponderance of researchers now agree that there are correlations between time spent using social media and mental health problems.

Additionally, a recent poll commissioned by ParentsTogether and Reset Tech and conducted by Hart Research reveals widespread public recognition of the dangers posed by social media platforms and support for government action to hold tech companies accountable for the harms their platforms cause young people. An overwhelming majority of voters (84 percent) believe that social media companies, the federal government (71 percent), and state governments (67 percent) should do more to ensure the safety of children and teens online. The poll shows that two-thirds of voters (67 percent)—including large majorities across party lines—and nearly three-quarters of parents (73 percent) consider it crucial for the government to address the impact of social media on young people.

Tags: ,