This website is dedicated to my sons and grandchildren.
My 17 year-old son, Alex Peiser, died by suicide in October 2017.
Mental health experts say that suicide is often the result of a cascade of negative experiences. From my interactions with other suicide loss survivors and their stories about their loved ones, I believe this to be true.
I also believe that Alex’s online interactions influenced the mental state that caused him to take his life.
It is my greatest wish that the harms from social media and other internet platforms are mitigated to ensure safer online experiences for everyone.
This can only be accomplished if research documenting harms is evaluated alongside the research that documents the positive aspects of online services.
My name is Sharon Winkler and I am the publisher and editor of Social Media Harms. I started this website after watching the Center for Humane Technology's film,The Social Dilemma. I also took Tech Guru Jaron Lanier’s advice from his book “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” and deleted the accounts that I spent the most time on and started Social Media Harms. Phone calls, e-mails, texts, Zoom visits and in-person activities have replaced my social media time. The trade-off has been worth it - I haven't missed out on anything.
Having some background in IT and IT research, in early 2021 it was a great surprise to find that there were few studies available online by United States researchers that documented externalities caused by social media use. However, there were many studies that documented these externalities from researchers in other countries.
This imbalance was unusual and intriguing.
Fortunately, the tide appears to be turning. It is my greatest wish that the U.S. government enacts legislation that requires internet platforms and social media companies to share their data with vetted researchers and are required to participate in annual third-party risk assessment programs whose findings are made available to the public.
It is not my intent to make money from this website. Social Media Harms does not have an online store, nor does it solicit donations. I am always looking for peer-reviewed research studies that document the externalities created by social media or other online platform use. If you have studies to share, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.