Opium for the Children (and Adults Alike) by Artur Kurasiński


The post was originally published in Polish on Artur’s LinkedIn profile. Artur kindly agreed that we repost what we think is of great value to our readers.

In the 19th century, children worked in mines. Not so long ago, tobacco companies told us that smoking tobacco was ok and even good for our health. How many years will it take us to realize that social media is harmful?

Artur Kurasiński, Serial Founder and Investor

In 2021, Francis Haugen leaked thousands of internal Facebook documents to representatives of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and The Wall Street Journal. According to the research, Zuckerberg’s researchers had conducted internal research and had evidence that Instagram had a negative impact on the self-esteem of young girls. The company said this was a wrong interpretation of the results of the research and Instagram wasn’t harming anyone.

A few days ago, Arturo Béjar, another Meta employee, testified before the Congress, who decided to share his doubts about whether the company really cares about its users.Béjar claims that he alerted his superiors and demanded changes related to the possibility of inappropriate content being reported by users of the platform.The supervisors stated that no changes were needed.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate recently conducted an experiment. They wanted to see how TikTok’s algorithm works on children. Within minutes of the 13-year-old creating their TikTok account, algorithms began displaying content encouraging self-harm and eating disorders. TikTok showed the first suicide video after just the third minute of scrolling. The first video promoting eating disorders was shown at the 8-minute mark. Does your child have a TikTok account?

Forty-one U.S. states, including New York and California, have filed charges against the Meta corporation. The indictment relates to allegations of harming the mental health of adolescents through specially designed, addictive features on Instagram and Facebook that are designed to draw children’s attention to these platforms. The indictment filed in federal court in California alleges that Meta unlawfully collects information from users under the age of 13 without proper parental consent, which is a violation of federal law.

Do you have a child? Do you give them drugs, tobacco, and alcohol? If not, then how come you allow them to get formatted by the algorithms of social media platforms?

Social media is tailored to release endorphins and flood the brain with them. Adults have trouble using these platforms, let alone young children. Social media is built by huge teams of psychologists and sociologists who create addictive mechanisms to grab our attention.

Perhaps, one should think about it a little longer before letting a child ‘play with the phone’ again.


The comment section had a few insights and questions:

Everything is known, but unfortunately the case is that if we were to prohibit children from using social media or somehow limit it, it would be similar to how an adult drinking a bottle of vodka would tell another adult that drinking is harmful and they shouldn’t drink. We are the victims of everyday choices or scrolling. We often talk to the other person while posting a comment or post. And children see themselves in us like in a mirror. And between a meal and the toilet, they do exactly the same things as we do. So, the first step would be social media hygiene at home.

Patrycja Dendor, President at the Polish Association of Business Women

We can never win against an army of programmers and other specialists whose main job is to lure us into the trap of scrolling and endless ‘curiosities.’ If we adults who got these toys at a mature age can’t cope, it’s even harder for kids who have phones from a young age. I recommend the movie The Social Dilemma, have you seen it? If so, what did it change in your life or the lives of your children?

Barbara Maluszynska, Online Learning Manager and Project Coordinator at Centrum Merito

What do you think should be the age of consent for Social Media? 13 years old, with limited legal capacity? 15 years old, similar to sexual consent? 18 years old, with full citizenship rights? 20 years when you can ride a big motorcycle? I have two teenagers at home – active social media users, so for me this problem is through, but I’m wondering if it’s possible to set a real limit.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski, Partner at EY

With three children around me, I focus on education. My teenager has access to a phone, but there are parental controls and restrictions on access to social media. The other two still have to wait a little longer before they experience the internet. However, looking at my children’s peers and how common it is for them to access stuff, there is definitely a lack of awareness in our society of the dangers of social media. Therefore, the education of parents is crucial here.

Elżbieta Rachtan, Sales and Marketing Specialist at Pako Group HR


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