The Social Media Harms publication and website are dedicated to my sons and grandchildren.
My 17 year old son, Alex Peiser, died by suicide in October 2017. Mental health experts say that suicide is often the result of a cascade of negative experiences. From my interactions with other suicide loss survivors and their stories about their loved ones, I believe this to be true.
I also believe that Alex’s online interactions influenced the mental state that caused him to take his life.
It is my greatest wish that the harms from social media and other internet platforms are mitigated to ensure a safer online experience for everyone.
This can only be accomplished if research documenting harms is evaluated alongside the research that documents the positive aspects of online services.
I have made the following pledge, will you join me?:
I will not create new social media accounts until the U.S. Congress passes legislation that regulates social media and other internet platforms.
While not an information technologist myself, I have been information technology (IT) adjacent for most of my career. When I was on active duty in the United States Navy, I spent a tour as a Navy Program Manager for Department of Defense (DoD) Electronic Medical Records systems, to include the Composite Health Care System II (CHCS II), the precursor to the current electronic medical records systems in use. When I retired from active duty, part of my responsibilities as a civilian working as the Director for Healthcare Business at Naval Health Clinic, Charleston, SC, was to coordinate the Department of Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s participation in the Carolina e-Health Alliance, a Charleston-area Health Information Exchange(HIE).
Having some background in IT and IT research, it was a great surprise to find that there were few studies available online by United States researchers that documented externalities caused by social media use.
However, there were many studies that documented these externalities from researchers in other countries. This imbalance was unusual and intriguing.
Activist and author Amy Suskind created lists of stories and articles to document her point of view and provide sources that her readers could confirm and read for themselves. I decided that Social Media Harms would be my version of Suskind’s lists, only I would provide lists of peer-reviewed research studies that document externalities created by the use of social media and other internet platforms.
I am a member of the not-for-profit organization Fairplay, an organization that advocates for safer online platforms for children and teens. I also work with Fairplay’s Screentime Action Network.
It is not my intent to make an income from Social Media Harms. Social Media Harms does not have an online store, nor does it solicit donations. I am always looking for peer-reviewed research studies that document the externalities created by social media or other online platform use. If you have studies to share, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.