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‘Social media drove our teenagers to anorexia and suicide’ | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #hacking | #aihp


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Social media giants are facing new fresh pressure on the lasting impact on “addicted” teens – including protests, lawsuits, and warnings from psychologists on harmful content proliferating online.

Now parents tell The Post how their families have suffered as social media severely impacted their teenage children, even driving them to suicide.

The American Psychological Association released 10 new recommendations last week on protecting teens while they use social apps, underlining the growing concern among parents, experts, and lawmakers about interacting with others through phones and screens for hours unchecked.

The guidance does not suggest specific daily limits for teens. But it urges parents to keep children away from content about “beauty” and “appearance” – saying comments on photos can lead to poor body image, eating disorders, and depression, particularly among girls.

It also tells parents to make sure children are not stopped by social media from getting eight hours of sleep, to keep them away from screens an hour before bedtime, and to monitor usage for problematic content.

“Within the field, there is pretty clear consensus that it is not how much time kids are on screen that matters as much as what they are doing during that screen time,” the APA’s chief science officer, Mitch Prinstein, who helped develop the advice, told The Post.

Prinstein said teens should focus on homework or reading the news instead of passive scrolling or exposure to potentially destructive content.

“It may be easiest for parents to consider how much their children are balancing social interactions that allow for the development of mature social competence as compared to the amount of social interaction that is via social media,” Prinstein said.

Protests from the parents of dead teenagers are only part of the pressure on social media platforms, with members of both parties in Congress proposing bans on its use for under-13s and new restrictions for other teens.
Courtesy of Rosellene Bronstein

Social media giants, including Meta’s Instagram and Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and smaller platforms including Roblox, Discord, Reddit, and Twitch, are facing not just criticism from parents and psychologists but calls from both parties in the Senate for an all-out ban on their use by under-13s and severe restrictions for 13- to 18-year-olds.

And relatives of the 10 people murdered by a racist gunman in the Buffalo, New York, supermarket shooting last May are now suing Meta, Snapchat’s parent company Snap, Discord, Reddit, 4chan, YouTube’s owner Alphabet and Twitch’s parent company Amazon. They claim the platforms radicalized the teen gunman before the mass shooting.

One school resource officer told The Post he tells parents to keep kids off social media until “at least 13” because of the risk that they will be exploited for nudes or money by extortionists.

Corp. David Gomez, an officer with the Boise County Sheriff’s Office, said he operates multiple fake accounts to see what “kind of drug issues” are impacting the area, as well as to search for local runaways. He regularly gets contacted by men and women while portraying both boys and girls, he said.

Corp. David Gomez, of the Boise County Sheriff’s Office, said “dangers” await young users of social media sites, including scammers in search of money or sexually explicit content.

“I just regurgitate what the kids say and then I get adult predators who want to meet for sex,” Gomez, 50, said. “As a community, we need to increase our education of parents and kids about social media dangers.”

He also cultivates relationships offline with students, but he realizes authorities are outnumbered.

“This is like emptying the river with one cup at a time,” Gomez said. “Most adults cannot fathom the amount of kids that are becoming victims to these things.”


Rosellene Bronstein, 49, of Chicago, traveled to California for a protest outside Snap headquarters in Santa Monica on Friday because she does not want another family to lose a child to suicide – as she did last year.

She joined dozens of parents calling for stricter regulations on social media companies and expressing support for the proposed Kids Online Safety Act. The measure, proposed by a bipartisan group of senators, would require annual independent audits assessing risks to teens and increased parental controls.

Nate with his parents, Rob and Rosellene Bronstein, during a trip in 2020, roughly two years before the bullied teen committed suicide. Social media sites deliberately use algorithms to “create addiction” among young users, his mother told The Post.
Courtesy of Bronstein Family

“The algorithms are deliberately designed to create addiction to the content our children are exposed to,” she continued. “And couple with our children’s desire to be validated by likes, shares and views, these online environments are extremely harmful to our children’s mental health.”

Bronstein’s son, Nate, took his own life in January 2022 following relentless bullying by more than 20 classmates at the Latin School of Chicago.

Just weeks before hanging himself, the 15-year-old had received a Snapchat message from a basketball teammate urging him to “go kill yourself,” she recalled.

Bronstein said Nate reported the abuse to school officials, but his parents weren’t informed until it was too late. She and her husband Rob Bronstein later filed a $100 million lawsuit against the school, alleging their son was initially targeted by bullies who wrongly believed he was unvaccinated. 

“Social media platforms do not care about our children. They only care about profits.”

Rosellene Bronstein

They also joined a class-action lawsuit that accuses platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and others of being designed to maximize screen time and encourage addictive behavior, often resulting in emotional, mental or physical harm.

“It’s really up to us parents to come together to create our own societal shift and say, ‘Enough is enough, we’re not going to put our kids on social media,’” Bronstein, whose daughters Mia and Sydney are 19 and 15, told The Post.

Nate Bronstein, 15, was found hanged in his family’s home just one month after he received a Snapchat message urging him to “go kill yourself,” his mother told The Post.

She said parents should consider keeping their teens away from social media altogether if possible, likening abuse of sites like Facebook or TikTok to smoking or doing drugs.

“It’s the same idea, it has to be applied to social media,” Bronstein said. “But parents aren’t there yet. And what really upsets me is that parents have their heads down in the sand, thinking this is not a crisis. That’s the issue.”

She also wants Snapchat to allow parents to monitor all the content its teenage users receive by permitting third-party apps such as Bark to monitor messages, something the platform does not currently allow.

A $100 million lawsuit filed by Robert Bronstein, left, and his wife Rosellene alleges the Latin School of Chicago committed “willful failure” to stop continual bullying of their son Nate.
Courtesy of Bronstein Family

“If I would’ve been able to use Bark with Snapchat, the minute he would’ve gotten that message, I would’ve gotten like a three-alarm alert on my phone,” she said. “We would have been able to save our son.”

Users must be at least 13 to create a Snapchat account and teens receive an alert if they’ve accepted a friend request from an adult. The app also recently launched its “Family Center,” a tool allowing parents to track friends of their teens without getting access to their messages, a company spokesperson told The Post.


April Veneigh, 39, wants other parents to know that young adolescents – like her 12-year-old daughter Kaelyn – can be targeted outside traditional social media giants such as Instagram or TikTok. 

Kaelyn, then 11, connected with another user on the online gaming platform Roblox early last year. The chat later moved to Discord, a voice-video-text service where most conversations are private.

The other user claimed he was 14, and started to “groom” Kaelyn, now in the sixth grade, by sending explicit videos and requesting nude photos from her, Veneigh told The Post.

April Veneigh, 39, of King City, Oregon, with her two daughters, Kimberly, 16, and Kaelyn, 12. An online predator recently targeted Veneigh’s younger daughter, she told The Post.
Courtesy of April Veneigh

“He claimed he was 14, but was very advanced for a 14-year-old,” said Veneigh, of King City, Oregon. “He got her to think we were abusive and that she could only trust him with everything.”

Veneigh said she noticed changes in Kaelyn’s behavior after she connected with the stranger, including severe anxiety and panic attacks.

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