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Study after study is revealing what we already know. Social media is having a devastating effect on our children.

It is not just the time it takes up or the fact that many kids are waking up to check their phones in the middle of the night, making their quality of sleep worse. No, the real problem is the depression and anxiety it causes.

At first, we had no idea what this type of connectivity would cause. We could see some productivity issues in adults, but we were clueless as to how destructive it would be to minds that are still developing.

But now we know, and something must be done about it. It is too hazardous to just look the other way and assume that it doesn’t apply to your children.

The negative effects of social media hit girls the hardest. Boys with smartphones are much more likely to abuse them by excessively playing video games or accessing pornography, which is equally as destructive, but these dangers are more recognizable. Girls, however, are using social media platforms that are widely accepted without being aware of the damaging consequences.

Since 2009, there has been a 62 percent increase in girls age 15-19 cutting themselves to the point of needing hospitalization. When I was a youth pastor, this epidemic was just beginning, and I had several girls who seemed otherwise healthy who cut themselves on a regular basis.

This self-harming is an early indicator that the person is suffering from severe depression and anxiety.  This may seem horrifying, but it’s even worse for preteen girls. Their self-harm rate has increased by 189 percent. This younger group typically had a fairly low rate of self-harm, but it has more than tripled in just the last five years.

Why is it so damaging? There are lots of reasons, from self-image issues to bullying. Boys tend to be physically aggressive, whereas girls are socially aggressive, and social media has given them the ability to destroy another person with a single angry post.

There is also the image issues it can cause. You may have seen a girl take 20 selfies, trying to get just the right light and right angle. Then those photos get edited, and hashtags added that make their lives seem far greater than they actually are. This type of double life can easily lead to a person feeling like a fake, creating a deep sense of loneliness.

What can a parent do to protect the child God has blessed them with? The experts recommend that kids should have no social media accounts until they are in high school, and once they do have accounts, any phone or laptop be removed from their room at least one hour before bedtime.

These may seem like extreme measures, and you can expect them to protest, but as the evidence continues to pour in, we have a duty to protect our kids from things that show a great ability to cause emotional and perhaps even physical harm.

All the data listed in this post was taken from the book The Coddling of the American Mind by Lukinoff & Haidt.