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Friday, June 14, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Expert wants oversight of social media giants amid declining teen mental health

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Monday, April 15, 2024   

Earlier this year, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford took legal action against five of the biggest social media platforms, claiming they have no regard for youths' mental health and well-being.

Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist at New York University, reaffirmed Ford's sentiments, suggesting children and adolescents today who spend hours at a time on social media could experience devastating effects on their mental health and their ability to cope with real-life challenges.

"When you have a synchronized global collapse in mental health hitting the same way demographically, it is going to be pretty hard to find a theory other than my theory of the 'Great Rewiring,'" Haidt contended.

Haidt reported the mental health of teens, especially girls, plunged in the early 2010s, with higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide when what he calls "play-based childhood," was replaced by "phone-based childhood." Additionally, symptoms of depression and anxiety doubled during the pandemic according to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, which put together a guide to help Nevada families navigate mental health challenges.

American teenagers, ages 13-17, have propelled apps like TikTok to the top of the list of available social media platforms, according to Pew Research Center. Haidt noted while certain measures such as more strict age verification requirements have been considered, tech companies contend it would be too much of an inconvenience for adult users. Haidt called on lawmakers to step up.

"What I'd like to see is Congress would mandate that the companies have to do something," Haidt emphasized. "They have to make a good-faith effort, 'we're not going to hold them responsible for 100%,' but at present 0% there is nothing."

What Haidt termed a "completely frictionless and anonymous virtual world," is causing harm to young children around the country and added he supports a small level of inconvenience for adult users when they sign up for platforms if it will help keep children more safe.


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