Psychologist weighs in on mental health effect of social media threats against schools

ALBANI, NY (NEWS10) – You always hear that kids don’t have a filter. Add to that a loss of regular social interaction for about two years, and the things kids and teens say on social media can have real-world consequences.

“Which means that when you bring them together, they are not used to talking to each other, they are not used to being in social groups, there is more pressure, and there are more opportunities for violence and aggression,” explains Dr. Rudi Niedger, a clinical psychologist.

School districts across the country panicked Thursday after a viral Tik Tok video trend threatened violence in national schools. The Department of Homeland Security later Friday morning released an acknowledgment of the trend and a preparedness alert, but said there was no confirmation of any credible threats.

Dr. Niedger says students of the current generation cannot address all of the unprecedented waves of toxic impact that social media is having on them. A study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that one in five children has some type of mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder. Suicidal tendencies also increased by 36% between 2009 and 2019.

“Probably the worst thing you can do is say, ‘OK, I know how you feel. Well, you don’t. What young people go through in school today is very different from what it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago,'” he says.

He says he got a chance to observe and provide input into exercises with local school districts. He says his advice is always to give students a chance to speak.

“A lot of times I think parents and educators sit down and come up with ideas about what they think would be helpful, and also get the students involved. They may not realize the same risks, but if you’re looking for solutions, they may have some of the best ideas and getting involved may be one way for them. To gain a better appreciation of the seriousness of some of these threats and some of these actions actually mean”, explains Dr. Niedger.

For parents, he suggests giving your students the opportunity to teach you about social media. Let them feel that they can help you, so you can help them.

“Give your suggestions, give your feedback, keep it brief, review. What you hear is more important than what you say, so listen,” he says.

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