BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Englyn Roberts loved dancing, music, and food.
“She loved her family and loved being with her friends all the time,” her mother, Brandy Roberts said.
Roberts got their daughter a phone when she was ten years old.
“So she could keep in touch with her friends and family,” her father, Toney Roberts said.
They took the precautions they thought they needed.
“We would regulate, you know her phone, she would turn it in. We had the passwords to all her different social media accounts,” the parents said.
But they soon noticed a change in their daughter.
“She became 13, we went on a cruise, and she was just adamant about having to have the phone like she couldn’t put it down, and then on a cruise most of the time you do not have Internet access, so she was really upset that she wouldn’t be able to get on her phone,” Roberts said.
Brandy and Toney didn’t know the pressures she was dealing with online- including bullying.
“Can’t describe it. Especially now that we have lost our child. As parents, you think you know and you think you are smart because I’m the dad, that when she would leave to go to school, I would check her phone we had the passcode but what I just didn’t know is where the information was, especially on Instagram,” Roberts said.
They hired attorney Matthew Bergman, who founded the Social Media Law Center as a result of an increase of teens taking their lives.
“The nature of these algorithms and these products are designed to be addicted, addictive to teenagers and all three of these teenagers who became addicted to their products and consequently, suffered sleep deprivation and anxiety and couldn’t get away from it,” Bergman said.
The addiction to social media, along with content kids see. Is a dangerous combination.
“Their profit model is based upon maximizing screen time and engagement over and above everything else. The way they do that is by designing algorithms that direct children, children whose brains aren’t fully developed to content children have no business looking at,” Bergman said.
But social media is not the only thing parents have to worry about, according to Cassiti Guidry.
“It’s been an increase of mass shootings, a lot of violence, not just dealing with outside of school, but in school, on buses, it’s a lot of ongoing things and activities that I would like to know about, while my daughter is away from me,” Guidry said.
This is why she got her 11-year-old a phone but is still cautious about social media.
“A lot of parents say they checked the phones, but again, we know that the kids could delete things just to be open with them and say it’s not that we want to know all your business, but we want to make sure you’re safe,” Roberts said.
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