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My thoughts, tips, and other tidbits that I believe are suited for a fact-based optimist. This newsletter is for you who are a Premium Supporter at Warp News. Feel free to share it with friends and acquaintances.
🚮 Social media and screen time
"Radio gets blamed for everything" — that headline from the Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph in 1931 sums up the coverage of the groundbreaking technology, writes Ulrika Gerth in the book Naive Pessimists.
And so it was. Radio was blamed for dead birds, divorces, extreme weather, rain, lack of sleep, poor school results, and much more. Check it out in the Pessimists Archive.
Time and again, these technology panics sweep over us. When I grew up in the 1980s and 90s, it was first violence in movies (on VHS), then video games that were going to ruin us kids.
Critics often lean on science. Early research results prove them right, they claim.
But then it calms down, research has time to study long-term effects and correct early, narrow, and often incorrect results. And come to new conclusions, like the fact that children who play video games have a higher IQ.
However, few people realize this, but it doesn't stop us from snickering at how foolish they were before. Hoho, to think they were so stupid to believe that radio waves killed birds! 🤣
I believe that today's purported negative effects of social media and screens will go the same way and end up in the pessimist archive.
Last week we published two such news items:
- 👩💻 New studies: No negative mental health impact from internet and social media
- 📱 Study: No impact of screen time on children's brain development
Few things have zero negative effects, not the radio, screens or social media either. But our imagination runs away with us, and both anecdotal evidence and research results are overinterpreted. We forget about the positive effects and how we adapt and learn to handle the new in a good way.
Moreover, there are people who make a career out of talking about the dangers, and they are often eloquent and convincing. Or, in the case of social media, traditional media has a strong vested interest in attacking those who have taken a large portion of their advertising revenue.
Give it 15 years, and the Pessimists Archive will have two new categories: Social media and screen time. People will chuckle at all the exaggerated recommendations, bans of screens in schools, and marvel at how naive we were.
❗ More from the Pessimists Archive
The Angry Optimist