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Parents of the social media generation are not OK – CNN



(CNN Business)Last September, just a few weeks into the school year, Sabine Polak got a call from the guidance counselor. Her 14-year-old daughter was struggling with depression and had contemplated suicide.

“I was completely floored,” said Polak, 45, who lives in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. “I had no clue she was even feeling remotely down at all. When I asked her about it, she just kept saying she wanted to get away from it all … but I didn’t know what that meant.”
After taking her to a crisis center, which banned phone use for anyone checking in, Polak learned from her daughter that the pressures of social media were driving her increased anxiety. The main source of stress: waiting for her friends to open and respond to messages and photos on Snapchat.
“It became really addictive [for her] — the sense that you always have to be on, and always have to be responding to someone in order to be seen or to exist,” she said. “She would look at her phone and go from calm to storming out of the car, and the rest of the night, just curled up in her bed.”
Polak turned on some of the phone’s parental controls, but they were easy for her daughter to circumvent. She took the phone away but worried this move would only drive her daughter to think about taking her own life again. She gave the phone back only to find her daughter “self-soothing” on another social app, TikTok — so much, in fact, that “she literally believes that she can’t fall asleep without it.” As Polak put it, her daughter “feels lost, like, ‘I have no idea what to do with myself if I’m not on social media.'”
Polak is among a generation of parents who did not spend their childhoods with social media apps and are now struggling to understand and navigate the potential harms that social media can have on their kids’ mental health as they grow up. In interviews over the last month, nearly a dozen parents spoke with CNN Business about grappling with how to deal with teens who experience online harms such as bullying, body image issues and pressures to always be Liked. Most of the parents said these issues either began or were exacerbated by the pandemic, a time when their children were isolated from friends, social media became a lifeline and the amount of screen time increased.
Sabine Polak is one of many concerned parents who are struggling to navigate social media's impact on their children's mental health.

Sabine Polak is one of many concerned parents who are struggling to navigate social media's impact on their children's mental health.

The issue of social media’s impact on teens gained renewed attention this fall after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked hundreds of internal documents, some of which showed the company knew of Instagram’s potential to negatively impact one’s mental health and body image, especially among teenage girls. But Haugen also touched on the impact on parents. During her testimony before Congress in October, Haugen cited Facebook research that revealed kids believe they are struggling with issues like body image and bullying alone because their parents can’t guide them.
“I’m saddest when I look on Twitter and people blame the parents for these problems with Facebook. They say, ‘Just take your kid’s phone away.’ But the reality is that it’s a lot more complicated than that,” she said in her testimony.
“Very rarely do you have one of these generational shifts where the generation that leads, like parents who guide their children, have such a different set of experiences that they don’t have the context to support their children in a safe way,” she added. “We need to support parents. If Facebook won’t protect the kids, we at least need to help the parents support the kids.”
Facebook, which rebranded as Meta in October, has repeatedly tried to discredit Haugen and said her testimony and reports on the documents mischaracterize its actions and efforts. But the outcry from Haugen’s disclosures pressured Facebook to rethink the launch of an Instagram app for children under 13. (Children under the age of 13 are not currently permitted to create accounts on any Meta platforms.)
It also helped spur a series of congressional hearings about how tech products impact kids, featuring execs from Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat’s parent company, Snap. This week, the head of Meta-owned Instagram is set to appear before Congress as lawmakers question the app’s impact on young users.
In their testimonies, the TikTok and Snap executives showed humility and acknowledged the need to do more to protect their platforms. Jennifer Stout, Snap VP of global public policy, said the company is developing new tools for parents to better oversee how their children are using the app. Instagram previously said it’s “increasingly focused on addressing negative social comparison and negative body image.”
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appears before a Senate subcommittee in October.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appears before a Senate subcommittee in October.

Ahead of the Congressional appearance this week, Instagram introduced a Take a Break feature which encourages users to spend some time away from the platform. The company also said it plans to take a “stricter approach” to the content it recommends to teenagers and actively nudge them toward different topics if they’ve been dwelling on any type of content for too long. It’s also planning to introduce its first tools for parents, including an educational hub and parental monitoring tools that allow them to see how much time their kids spend on Instagram and set time limits, starting next year.
“You can offer tools to parents and you can offer them insights into their teen’s activity, but that’s not as helpful if they don’t really know how to have a conversation with their teen about it, or how to start a dialogue that can help them get the most out of their time online,” Vaishnavi J, Instagram’s head of safety and well-being, told CNN Business this week.
Meanwhile, members of Congress have shown rare bipartisanship by uniting in criticizing tech companies on the issue. Some lawmakers are now pushing for legislation intended to increase children’s privacy online and reduce the apparent addictiveness of various platforms — though it remains unclear when or if such legislation will pass.
For some parents, these changes aren’t coming quick enough. Unsure what else to do, parents feel they have to go it alone, whether that means pushing for changes in their school districts or looking for advice from peers on some of the same social networks they feel have caused their families pain.

A longtime concern that’s getting worse

Even before Haugen’s disclosures, there were concerns in some households that the risks social media platforms posed to their kids were only growing.
Katherine Lake said social media became “everything” for her 13-year-old child during the pandemic to pass the time at home and connect with friends. She said her teen fell down a rabbit hole of pages about mental health and, later, posts about self harm — something her kid “didn’t even know about before Instagram.” The teenager was hospitalized last spring after attempting suicide.
“The pandemic has certainly accelerated some of the threats and dangers that we’ve been dealing with for years,” said Marc Berkman, CEO of the Organization for Social Media Safety, an agency founded three years ago to provide tips and preventative safety workshops for parents.
Some data also support that mental health issues among young people on social media are on the rise. Bark, a paid monitoring service that screens social media apps, personal messages and emails for terms and phrases that could indicate concerns, said it saw a 143% increase in alerts sent around self-harm and suicidal ideation during the first three months of 2021 compared to the year prior. (Parents receive alerts when Bark detects potential issues, along with expert recommendations from child psychologists for how to address them.)
“Our children’s lives are buried deep within their phones and the problems live within their digital signal in places that parents don’t go,” said Titania Jordan, chief marketing officer of Bark. “If you’re not spending time in the places where your children are online, how can you be educated and then how can you give them guidance?”
Gabriella Bermudez, now 18, recalls how Instagram impacted her mental health in middle school.

Gabriella Bermudez, now 18, recalls how Instagram impacted her mental health in middle school.

Gabriella Bermudez, a 19-year-old Fordham University student, told CNN Business she started struggling with body image issues in middle school after a boy she had a crush on started Liking photos of a 30-year-old model on Instagram.
“I was 12, and I would look at her and think, ‘Why don’t I look like that?'” said Bermudez.”I was covered with pimples. My hair, it was awful. … It never resonated that she was a grown woman. I posted pictures of myself to make myself look a lot older than I was.”
But that started to attract direct messages from older men on Instagram. She kept this from her parents, she said, because she thought “they’ll never understand what it’s like to be young [right now].”
“They always had societal pressures to look a certain way or behave a certain way, but that was in a magazine or on TV. They could have turned it off. For us, we’re attached to our phones all the time. When we’re waiting at the bus stop or walking to class, we’re always reminded of these ideals.”

Looking for answers

When Julia Taylor needs held making parenting decisions, she sometimes turns to a Facebook group called “Parenting in a Tech World.” Taylor’s son has ADHD, which she said causes him to “become hyper-focused on certain things,” including “anything with a screen.” Taylor, a single mom from the Denver area, wanted him to have a smartphone, “but he was hacking every parental control, sometimes staying up all night.”
On “Parenting in a Tech World,” which has 150,000 followers, she and other parents can find feedback on a wide range of topics, including when a kid should be allowed to join social media sites, what to do if they’re sending or receiving inappropriate texts or pictures, and product recommendations like a docking station that keeps devices out of kids’ rooms at night. Last year, Taylor purchased a Pinwheel phone that comes with web browsers and restricts social media use. (She later joined the company full-time as a marketing manager.)
Bark’s Jordan started the group years ago after she joined the company when she struggled to find resources to help her own parenting. “It has always taken a village to be the best parent you can, and while we’re waiting on legislators and Big Tech to do the right thing, at the end of the day, nobody is going to be a better parent for your child than you. The best thing that you can do is learn from other parents who have been there and done that, both their mistakes and their wins.”
On this issue, however, there are no easy answers. Social media and smartphones are here to stay — and taking them away could risk undermining a child’s social relationships and sense of independence. According to Alexandra Hamlet, a clinical psychologist in New York City, it’s important for parents to help teenagers navigate both the online and physical world, by being understanding and nonjudgmental. “If we can teach and support our children to use the same skillsets to navigate each world, we increase our chances of attaining mental health,” she said.
There’s now a wide range of policy ideas being batted around to help parents and kids. Some critics, including Haugen, said tech companies should move away from algorithmic news feeds that can drive users down rabbit holes. Two Democratic Senators have touted legislation called the Kids Act, which would ban autoplay settings and push alerts with the hope of limiting screen time. And the Organization for Social Media Safety said it is now working with Congress to try to push through legislation that would require third-party parent monitoring apps on all social media accounts of kids of a certain age.
Titania Jordan, an executive at Bark, started a Facebook Group for parents to discuss the challenges associated with raisiing kids in the digital age

Titania Jordan, an executive at Bark, started a Facebook Group for parents to discuss the challenges associated with raisiing kids in the digital age

Some parents inside and outside this Facebook group are already using parental control apps as well as purchasing low-tech phones and limiting social media use. Some have also gone so far as to try to get their children’s schools to take action on everything from banning phones in classrooms to cracking down on online bullying incidents, with little success.
Fernando Velloso, a father from Los Angeles, said his high school-aged daughter dealt with an anonymous bullying account likely set up by classmates who made false claims about her dating life. He said the school didn’t want to take action because it occurred outside of its premises.
On a series of Instagram accounts from high schools in the area, which were viewed by CNN, students are encouraged to submit gossip tips to accounts that have called students cheaters, rapists or questioned their sexuality. While Instagram has banned some of the accounts, others remain active. (A Meta spokesperson said the accounts did not violate its community guidelines but a number of pieces of content did, and have been removed.)
Bermudez said schools can do more to educate teenagers on how to better manage mental health and social media. “We need to be taught at a really young age, like in elementary school, about how to use it and [make it a] safe space.”
During her testimony, Haugen said schools and organizations such as the National Institutes of Health should provide established information where parents can learn how to better support their kids. Meanwhile, the Organization for Social Media Safety is currently rolling out a program with DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to be part of that curriculum in thousands of schools by the end of the current school year to educate students about the dangers of social media
Polak, the mother whose daughter had suicidal thoughts, has proposed a Mental Health Awareness Week at her daughter’s school that would include screenings of Childhood 2.0 and The Social Dilemma — two documentaries that touch on how platforms are impacting the well-being of its users.
Polak said her daughter is now doing better and occasionally accesses social media with time restrictions. “But once a week we have a social media brawl, where she’ll present me with, ‘When can I go back on Snapchat? When can I get back on TikTok?’ It’s a constant struggle, and there’s a lot of peer pressure from friends, good friends, to get back on some of the apps.”
But on a recent night, she found her daughter quietly playing with their family cat for half an hour in her room. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s what’s missing — the little everyday stuff that curbs our anxiety,” she said. “It’s just completely missing from teenage life at this point.”

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Media Release: COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre closed for remainder of the day due power outage – Hastings Prince Edward Public Health



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Media Release: COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre closed for remainder of the day due power outage  Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

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Sask. health minister attends first COVID-19 media briefing in nearly a month, defends absence – CTV News Saskatoon



On Monday, Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman attended his first COVID-19 media briefing in nearly a month.

The briefings, streamed digitally from the legislature in Regina, provide an update on the latest pandemic information in the province and offer an opportunity for members of the media to question leaders.

Merriman last attended a COVID-19 press conference on Dec. 30, 2021.

During the media availability, Merriman was asked about his absence.

“Just because I’m not in front of the camera doesn’t mean that I’m not working,” Merriman said.

“I’ve been working diligently.”

Merriman said he has been available for “media callbacks” to answer journalists’ questions.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health was unable to say how many interviews he has done and with which news outlets, but that the office “fields a significant number of media requests” each week.

“I am available all the time to be able to make sure I’m conveying the information,” Merriman said at the conference.

Following Monday’s provincial press conference, Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili said Merriman has been doing “an extremely bad job.”

“He is constantly hiding from scrutiny. He fails to do his job over and over again,” the leader of the official opposition said.

Meili said it was “really striking” the province’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab also wasn’t present for the COVID-19 update.

During the briefing, Premier Scott Moe defended Saskatchewan’s move not to add more public health orders. He said the Omicron variant is going to spread regardless of stricter rules.

“I believe what we saw today was a political message that could not possibly sit beside an honest public health message,” Meili said.

Moe stood up for Merriman during the news conference. He said Merriman has been busy working at the Saskatoon Cabinet Office.

“I would just like to take the opportunity to thank him for the effort that he’s made not just through Christmas and January but throughout his time as health minister,” Moe said.

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Media Beat: January 24, 2022 | FYIMusicNews – FYI Music News



CBC will get more of your money mostly because it serves Trudeau Liberals

Today, fewer Canadians are watching CBC with the network taking just 5% of the available English television audience in primetime.

The most recent ratings available show just one CBC show making the top 30 — the heavily promoted Son of a Critch brought in 941,000 viewers on Jan. 4 putting it in 28th spot.

CTV’s local supper hour news had an average audience of 1.7 million across the country, their national news at 11 had an average audience of 1 million, and Global’s weekend news had an audience of just under 1 million. – Brian Lilley, Toronto Sun

Netflix, Peloton bring the pandemic-stock era to a shuddering halt

Others are suffering as well. Zoom Video Communications Inc., the owner of the ubiquitous video conferencing software, is trading at the lowest level since May 2020, as is e-signature company DocuSign Inc. Both stocks have lost more than half of their market values from record highs and slid further after Netflix’s results. Etsy Inc., the e-commerce company that saw strong pandemic demand for face masks and other products, is down more than 45 percent from a November peak. It last closed at its lowest since May.

Traditional media companies that have styled themselves as streaming businesses also took a hit in post-market trading. That includes Walt Disney Co. and ViacomCBS Inc. – Nick Turner & Jeran Wittenstein, Bloomberg News

Could Netflix be a good value stock?

While Netflix is falling out of favour with growth-focused investors, it is starting to gain merit as a value stock. Despite its somewhat disappointing subscriber gain, Netflix posted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.33 last quarter, easily beating its guidance and the analyst consensus of $0.82. This brought its full-year EPS to $11.24.

Netflix expects its operating margin to retreat somewhat in 2022 — largely due to exchange rate pressures — following several years of extremely strong margin expansion. Still, margin expansion will likely resume in 2023. Even with slower subscriber growth, the operating leverage inherent in Netflix’s business model should enable the company to grow revenue faster than expenses for the foreseeable future. – Adam Levine-Weinberg, The Motley Fool

Streaming wars price tag could top $140B this year

Sports broadcasting rights are a substantial part of the overall totals. Their cost has skyrocketed in recent renewal negotiations by networks with the NFL, NHL, NBA, English Premier League and other major European soccer leagues and competitions, and cricket’s Indian Premier League. – David Bloom, Forbes

TV newsrooms poised for 2022 surge in streaming wars

A lot of journalists — and the executives who manage them — will head into a decidedly non-traditional competition in 2022, one that won’t necessarily be won with news scoops. They are rushing to produce new kinds of show formats, and relying on anchors both familiar and less so, all in a furious bid to keep a younger generation of consumers from developing new connections with digital upstarts that threaten to siphon them away. The fight is well underway: NBC News just before Christmas ran full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal touting its still-growing NBC News Now streaming outlet. CNN, meanwhile, is expected to launch a significant marketing blitz behind its soon-to-launch CNN Plus, which will require a monthly subscription fee. NBC News’ ad tells people its streaming product is “Streaming. Free. 24/7” because it’s not behind a paywall. “We believe it serves the consumer better for us to be ubiquitous,” says Chris Berend, executive vice president of digital operations for NBCU’s news operations.

The skirmish is intensifying at a critical moment. Big media companies like Comcast and Disney are under pressure from Wall Street to show more growth in subscriptions to outlets like Peacock and Disney Plus. Meanwhile, their news operations are facing significant long-term declines in viewership, both for cable news after the heady 2020 election as well as their morning-news franchises and evening-news mainstays. – Brian Steinberg, Variety

CORBEVAX, a new patent-free Covid-19 vaccine, could be a pandemic game-changer globally

All Covid-19 vaccines teach the immune system how to recognize the virus and prepare the body to mount an attack. The CORBEVAX vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine. It uses a harmless piece of the spike protein from the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 to stimulate and prepare the immune system for future encounters with the virus.

Another major difference is that the CORBEVAX vaccine was developed with global vaccine access in mind. The goal was to make a low-cost, easy-to-produce and -transport vaccine using a well-tested and safe method. Key to this, the researchers were not concerned with intellectual property or financial benefit. The vaccine was produced without significant public funding; the US$7 million needed for development was provided by philanthropists. – Maureen Ferran, The Conversation

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Gravitas | Ukraine crisis: Will Russia go to war?

Momentum is building for a conflict in Ukraine. A gaffe by Joe Biden has given Russia the upper hand. The US President suggested he would tolerate a “minor invasion” in Ukraine. Palki Sharma tells you more.

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My dishwasher wants to spy on me!

It’s time to say “No” to Big Tech and “smart” appliances that are, in reality, data thieves attaching themselves to us and our homes like blood-sucking parasites. – Thom Hartmann, The Hartmann Report

How to avoid unwanted photos on social media

If you spot an unwanted photo of you on your News Feed, there are things you can do. – Dalvin Brown, The Wall Street Journal

Jail for Social Media Execs?

The government in the UK has a guy named Jonathan Hall whose title is Independent Reviewer of Terrorism. His job is to be a “watchdog” over domestic terrorism. According to Mr. Hall, the UK’s 2006 Terrorism Act requires that online companies take down any material that encourages terrorist activities.

Hall says the internet, and social media in particular, has become “the main frontier” for wannabe terrorists and that the Terrorism Act allows for jail time for those who allow the promotion of terrorism to continue on their sites. Hall was particularly scathing about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. He said it was “pointless” to appeal to Zuckerberg to act morally.

I’d be happy to send Zuckerberg to jail just for his stupid fucking haircut. – Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian

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