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Social media parental control app saw 25% increase in self-harm, suicide alerts among teens in 2021
Social media platforms are impacting children’s health
Dr. Katherine Kuhlman and Asra Nomani discuss the concerns social media platforms are raising for parents on ‘Fox Business Tonight.’
Bark, a parental social media watchdog app, saw a 25% increase in self-harm and suicide alerts among young people between the ages of 12 and 18 in 2021, according to a report released Friday.
The app, which alerts parents when it "detects potential issues" in kids' text messages and app activity, analyzed more than 3.4 million messages across texts, emails and social media platforms in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of children across the U.S. to spend hours online every day.
"Per recent congressional hearings, we saw a great need for transparency around data, especially when it comes to minors and harmful content/people," Titania Jordan, chief parent officer and CMO of Bark, told FOX Business in a statement.
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"We have provided what we have access to in hopes to protect even more children. It's time for other tech companies to do the same. It's also time for big tech to let users truly own their data — instead of outrightly preventing parents from keeping their kids safer online."
More than 43% of young teenagers and nearly 75% of teenagers were involved in conversations or situations involving self-harm or suicide, Bark found in its survey of messages and social media activity. Bark did not specify the age range between "tweens" and "teenagers" in the report.
Early estimates for 2020 show more than 6,600 suicide deaths among U.S. youth, ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Emergency room visits for suicide attempts among adolescent girls, in particular, rose by 51% during the pandemic, and emergency room (ER) visits among adolescent boys increased by 4% during the same time period, CDC data shows.
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"Given that suicide is the second-leading cause of death in children in this nation, this is an alarming trend, and we have to do more for our children (and faster)," Jordan said.
Alerts for anxiety were most often sent for 15-year-old children, Bark found. Additionally, 32% of young teenagers and 56% of teenagers engaged in conversations about depression.
About 25% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 are affected by anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. About one in four children globally experienced depression during the pandemic, researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada found.