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Three Doctors’ Common Antidote to Social Media


The noted psychologist and author Dr. Leonard Sax recently visited our youngest daughter’s school for a talk with parents, focused on his recent book, The Collapse of Parenting. Sax is a leading proponent of treating boys and girls differently, and educating them separately; previous titles of his are Girls on the Edge (2005), Boys Adrift (2007) and Why Gender Matters (2005). You can get a sense of how he feels from these titles.

Because Sax was speaking with a group of parents at a coed K-8 school, he spent time talking about the different challenges girls and boys have. As he was talking about the use of social media by adolescent girls, Sax mentioned how, until only a few years ago, girls used to keep diaries. They were private affairs, often kept secret under lock and key. Younger brothers, of course, were the big danger, and could never be allowed to read the diaries—an occurrence that often has led to sitcom hijinks.

These days, of course, 13-year-old girls don’t keep diaries. What once was a top-secret, handwritten reflection on the days of their lives has become the exact opposite—short, public posts on social media sites like Instagram, most often involving selfies. The girls are smitten with seeing themselves on the Internet and tallying the likes, follows, comments and reactions. And they worry if there are no likes, or if there are negative comments. For them, social media is immediate, addictive, dangerous, and self-centered.

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