To the dismay of many parents and educators a startling trend is on the rise; disruptive behavior by students in the classroom. Disruptive behavior can take many forms, such as excessive talking, interrupting the teacher during presentations, emotional outbursts, distractions on classroom devices, etc. It has become increasingly common to have students removed from class because of their behavior. But what is contributing to this alarming trend? There are a few immediate factors that can be pointed to. First, the increasing availability of technology and social media to children. Second, the most popular trends for youth on popular social media apps encourage and celebrate disruptive behaviors as ‘personal expression’. Finally, one can point to the alarming number of children who are self identifying as trans, gender queer, or possessing one or more mental illnesses. The rise of these trends all at once is no coincidence, and it’s time our society gets serious about the causes and ramifications of allowing this behavior to continue. We must begin reversing these trends if we have any hope of truly saving our children.
One thing that is clear is that children are becoming increasingly disruptive in school and nothing that school administrators are doing seems to be helping. Children exhibit an inability to pay attention for any serious length of time, they are increasingly unable to regulate their own emotions and despite years long campaigns to end school bullying, it is arguably worse than ever. The American educational system is not holding children accountable for their behaviors, their punishments are laughably light, and an educational culture of acceptance and affirmation makes it impossible to address children expressing disruptive identities. Being removed from class and being told to calm down in a designated ‘calming space’ is not a punishment, it's a reward. Despite curriculum difficulty being eased year over year, students are reporting more stress and anxiety than ever before. Teachers are increasingly having class time dedicated to understanding and recognizing students ‘feelings’ and having exploratory exercises designed to allow children to better ‘express themselves’. Children are being coddled by the educational system, and it isn’t to their benefit. The hyper ‘empathetic’ approach to education is failing our children, making them less emotionally resilient and unable to withstand the realities of life. Educators around the country are beginning to sound the alarm, but they are only acknowledging part of the issue. To acknowledge the whole truth would be an admission that the entire new age approach to education is an abject failure. One of the most obvious contributors to changing student behavior is the aggressive and invasive presence of social media apps and the excessive engagement with technology.
Concerns around children and social media are not new, however in an unprecedented action two Seattle School districts are suing social media companies. The school districts accuse the social media platforms of harming students social, emotional and mental health. They cite the rise and connection of social media engagement to increased rates of anxiety and depression as well as the link to online bullying and suicide. The school districts are suing the companies behind Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. Not only do these platforms encourage attention seeking behavior, but they also offer a concrete metric by which children can measure their popularity. This leads to an obsession over likes, clicks, and shares where no amount of attention is enough. There are several studies showing that excessive use of technology and social media is actually altering the adolescent brain, and not in a good way. At no time in human development outside infancy does the human mind experience such exponential growth as we do in our adolescent years. The teenage mind is exceptionally malleable and vulnerable to suggestion. This creates the perfect storm around engaging with social media.
There are many negatives associated with increased social media usage among children but one of the most concerning is the deterioration of primary social skills. “As a species we are very highly attuned to reading social cues,” says Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD, a clinical psychologist and author of The Big Disconnect. “There’s no question kids are missing out on very critical social skills. In a way, texting and online communicating—it’s not like it creates a nonverbal learning disability, but it puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible.” Children are increasingly becoming dysfunctional with their in-person communication. Children are increasingly reporting that direct communication is difficult or stressful, despite it being the most important means of human communication. Being able to talk to one another, read body language, and see and hear the repercussions of our words is an essential part of the human condition. To a large degree, in person socialization is what teaches children to be empathetic and mindful. When communication is done through a screen, there is a disconnect from the consequences of our speech on another human being. An obvious and unfortunate reality of lives lived online is that it becomes easier to be cruel. “Kids text all sorts of things that you would never in a million years contemplate saying to anyone’s face,” says Donna Wick, EdD, a clinical and developmental psychologist. She notes that this seems to be especially true of girls, who typically don’t like to disagree with each other in “real life.” Women and girls often compare themselves aggressively against their peers, often lashing out in order to feel better about their own self image. Social media encourages this behavior by providing measurable metrics such as ‘like buttons’ and positive emojis. Girls will spend hours upon hours adjusting their online personas to be as ‘perfect’ as possible. This obsessive focus on the self is deeply unhealthy, and girls will often end up with a warped self image. The worst part about this is that kids are never truly alone. They hold the world in their pocket, helpless to resist the vicious dopamine cycle that won’t let them go.
The rise of personal computer devices in school over traditional paper assignments only exacerbates the amount of screen time students have in a day, and also offers excessive distractions in the class room. Google, YouTube, and other distracting sites are just clicks away. At home, children have even more access through social media apps on their phones and multi-player video game chat rooms. Specifically, apps like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are where some of the most harmful trends and messaging is being presented to children. If you go onto TikTok, Youtube, or Instagram you can quickly find a huge number of videos of children and teens self identifying as "Trans" or any host of gender "queer identities." These same creators often have videos claiming that they also suffer from a wide range of various mental illnesses. In part, the rise of self identification can be attributed to the increased attention given to students who are perceived to be members of an ‘at risk’ group. In the last several years there has been a huge increase in children ‘declaring’ that they have a mental illness, despite not being diagnosed by a doctor. Indeed, there seems to be a perverse race to the bottom attitude with youth today. Everyone is trying to outdo one another with how anxious, depressed, or bipolar they are. In the pursuit of proving their own claims about how ‘disadvantaged’ they are, students will display this through increasingly disruptive attitudes or behaviors in class. Instead of teachers pushing back on these claims or behaviors they are, more often than not, accommodated and indulged. At every turn, students seem to be seeking one or more forms of victim status. This inevitably bleeds over into LGBTQ+ identification.
Despite living in a time where there is more acceptance towards LGBTQ+ individuals than any time in history, educational materials and radical activists still claim that LGBTQ+ people are the most victimized group in society. By todays standards, nothing could be further from the truth. No one would willingly identify with a group that was truly experiencing wide spread discrimination, yet self identification as LGBTQ+ has never been higher. At the same time, teenagers are showing rates of suicidal ideation, depression and anxiety at higher rates than ever, particularly among youth who "identify" as LGBTQ+. Despite school efforts to be more accepting and supportive than ever before, children are increasingly unhappy. Simply put, children are imitating behavior that they perceive will garner them the most attention, and it works. The problem is that the longer children emulate this type of behavior, the more real it becomes. In a recent Gallup survey it was found that around 21% of Gen Z Americans who have reached adulthood identify as LGBT. This is nearly double the amount of millennials who identify the same way. In this same group, there has been a 1,000 fold increase with the number of people who identify as transgender.
There are two main ways to interpret this information. You could see this as a genuine and exponentially increasing change in human behavior due to increasing social acceptance of mental illnesses and LGBTQ+ individuals. Or alternatively, you could view this as a social contagion exacerbated by social and cultural pressures that incentivizes the expression of all behaviors outside the cultural norm. I believe that it is the latter, and if handled properly it will fade in time. However, waiting for this to fade on its own is unwise. A granular look at the data around self identification and sexual behavior finds a startling reality. LGBT identification is dramatically diverging from behavior.
Those who identify as LGBT but display heterosexual behavior are becoming a distinct group with their own markers. This group tends to lean extremely left politically and reports much greater rates of mental health problems. By contrast, those who identify as LGBT and subsequently engage in sam-sex behaviors are more politically moderate and far more psychologically stable.
We have a society that has rejected the stigmatization of LGBT people and those with mental illnesses. No one would argue that this is a bad thing. However, when you take this further and turn destigmatization into celebration, you are essentially encouraging children to pretend to be those things. This trend is particularly pronounced for young women where there are 3 bisexuals for every lesbian. For young men, gays outnumber bisexuals and the total number who claim LGBT membership is only half that of women. These trends are supported by Gallup, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. A look at the data leads to the conclusion that many youths are LGBT in name only, particularly self identified bisexual girls. This raises the very serious issue of self identification plaguing our schools and encouraging the environment that celebrates and enables illogical and unstable behaviors.
Our current culture celebrates any divergence from the norm, ie white, straight, cisgender. It treats the norms of human behavior as if they are to be barely tolerated. Yesterday’s goths and emo kids are today’s trans and non-binary kids. Our current culture is extremely transgressive. It preys on the anxieties and discomfort of youth in order to sell them a magical remedy in the form of Queer Identity where they can literally be anything they want to be. Teaching Gender Theory is as insidious as selling Snake Oil. It defies the most fundamental truths of our world and destroys the very concept of objective reality. The result is that our children are less confident, less emotionally stable, and less mentally resilient. So what is to be done? How can we turn the tide and protect our children?
The answer is incredibly simple but difficult to execute. First, parents need to be parents again. For too long parent have abdicated the social education of their children to the State. The schools and teachers have proven that they cannot be trusted. Parents must become very active in their children’s lives; they must actively teach and demonstrate the values that they wish to impart to their children. Technology must be severely limited and controlled. This will be particularly difficult because both children and adults are addicted to technology and the distractions it provides. However, if there is to be any hope, parents must supervise their children screen time aggressively and they must also put their phones down. This first remedy of limiting technology is vitally important because it is the mechanism by which radical gender theory and the ideation of mental illness is being delivered to children. Second, parents need to become very familiar with the curriculums of their school districts and need to become aware of what is being pushed in the classroom. Where it is possible, parents need to fight back against the predations of the radical elements of the LGBTQ+ lobby and confidently stand against the vitriol of the opposing side. Finally, parents need to engage with their kids in wholesome ways again. It is not enough to severely limit technology and ban social media. It is not enough to a combat transgressive, reality denying ideology. Parents must fill the void left by these things. Kids need to get involved in community institutions that will reinforce a sense of self predicated on the fulfillment of roles and goals. We are in a war for the wellbeing of our children and it is not a war we as parents can afford to lose. If you have the means for private schools or homeschooling, it should be done. If you can move from states that seek to undermine and destroy your parental rights and obligations, then you should. If you can join the fight, you should do so. We can, and we must, turn the tide that is slowly poisoning our children. Our kids are worth it.