What do I do now? Unthinkable stories Big Tech doesn’t want to tell

Jean Rogers, Director of our Screen Time Action Network, and Joni Siani of No App for Life, announce "The Harms," a three-part series from families who have faced tragedies as a result of social media's harmful practices.

TRIGGER WARNING: children’s death, suicide, verbal assault

“What do I do now?” Joann Bogard asked the emergency room nurse after hearing her son Mason was “gone.” The only advice the nurse could give to this grieving mother was “tell your story.” 

Like too many other parents, Joann had to face the unthinkable harms social media has had on her family. “I had never heard of the ‘choking game’ until discovering our son’s incident.” The horrifying reality is that we are losing children, teens, and young adults every single day to the harms of social media. Now is the time to tell those stories.

In a new, groundbreaking series, hosted by Joni Siani on the No App for Life Podcast and in partnership with our Screen Time Action Network, families are getting their chance [READ MORE BELOW].

In the early days of social media, dominant messaging focused on all the benefits.  Opportunities for fame, fortune, attention, connection, and the ability to grow small businesses or reach millions for worthy causes were promoted, while turning a blind eye to the negative elements that were present from day one. 

As a college professor on the front line, Joni had an early insight into the potential downside as the shift to digital interactions were causing her students real life struggles, without any model of best practices. Her students had the mandatory .edu email address necessary for the new Facebook platform in 2006, a year before it was available to the general public. Students were adapting by trial-and-error. A three hour Interpersonal Communication class turned into Facebook Group Therapy.  From daily digital drama, mortifying sexting scandals, verbal assaults, and constant critical judgment, she saw the life of the first digitally socialized population turn stressful and depressing almost overnight. Jean remembers meeting one of Joni’s students, a young man who said, “I was a normal happy kid until I got social media. That’s when the depression started.”  

And with the 2019 release of The Social Dilemma, the harms of social media became an amplified discussion in the social consciousness. Parents who had lost a child due to algorithms that preyed on their vulnerable youth wanted to advocate to prevent other families from experiencing this tragedy. They started a Work Group at the Screen Time Action Network to support one another and share their tales.

And now is the time to listen. Parents who have lost a child because of irresponsible social media activities should not have to take on the burden of demanding change. And yet – they are. So, we must amplify their stories until Congress and companies alike act. 

Please join us for the No App For Life special podcast series, The Harms, in partnership with our Screen Time Action Network. The three-part series addresses three critical scenarios happening online today.

The first episode deals with how anonymous apps enable ruthless assaults, sadly, from those who are considered “friends” that result in suicide. The second features “fun” online challenges that went horribly wrong. The third episode reveals how drug dealers push their services without any accountability, even posting ads right alongside other ads for basic products. 

Tune in today to all three episodes wherever you get your podcasts.