Influence of social media 'a real concern' for youth mental health

11 October 2020, 09:05 | Updated: 11 October 2020, 10:17

Natasha Devon speaks to director of The Social Dilemma

By Seán Hickey

The director of a blockbuster documentary has warned of the dangers social media poses to the mental health and wellbeing of its users.

Jeff Orlowski is the director of the Netflix documentary 'The Social Dilemma', a film that explores the impact and dangers of social networking that has seen widespread acclaim for its insight into the inner workings of social media platforms.

Natasha Devon asked Mr Orlowski how his relationship with social media changed after the documentary. He told her promptly that he doesn't use any social network because of his skepticism of their business models.

"I didn't wanna be used as a tool for their profits," the director insisted. "Their incentive is to bring us back to the platform to get us to spend more time - to reverse engineer everything about us," and for that, he couldn't justify using social networking further.

He told Natasha that these platforms are "reshaping our lives" for the worse, and with the conversation taking place on World Mental Health Day, she argued that this is "a mental health issue."

Following his explanation, Natasha saw the methods of these social media platforms as a "process of indoctrination and radicalisation."

The director told Natasha Devon he is concerned for the impact social media will have on youth
The director told Natasha Devon he is concerned for the impact social media will have on youth. Picture: PA

"These platforms have performed a magic trick on all of us," he insisted. In terms of politics, Mr Orlowski observed that "it feels harder and harder to talk ten years ago" with someone of a different political opinion down to the polarisation tactics of social media platforms who have "given us customised news."

"It's startling to think that these platforms have reshaped our information ecosystem"

The director warned Natasha that he is "really worried about how youth are engaging with them," adding that social media is "a real concern in my mind for youth and for Gen-Z."