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Is social media stealing our focus? One author says definitely

Is social media stealing our focus? One author says definitely
Is social media stealing our focus? One author says definitely 04:04

BOSTON - One author believes we are losing our focus - and social media is one of the factors that's causing it.

Johann Hari spent three months in Provincetown without an Internet connection as a way to break free from it all.

He says it needs to stop. Now.

"If you're struggling to focus and pay attention, if your kids are struggling to focus and pay attention, it's not your fault," says Hari.

In his book, "Stolen Focus," Hari writes that research shows air pollution, the food we eat and our phones have ripped away our attention.

Author Johann Hari says social media, pollution and the food we eat is stealing our focus. CBS Boston

"Everything you do on these apps, including your so-called private messages, is scanned and sorted by their AI algorithms to figure out what makes you tick," explains Hari. "So they can keep you scrolling. Because the longer you scroll, the more money they make."

And the groundswell to regulate it is growing in Washington.

Three senators just introduced the Clean Slate For Kids Online Act. That would wipe out any information collected before a child turned 13.

Massachusetts congressman Jake Auchincloss believes there is even more to be done beyond that.

"We also need to repair the harm from social media, first and foremost, by raising the access to 16 years old from 13," says Auchincloss. "And making it enforceable. That 13-year-old age limit is a joke."

Congressman Auchincloss recently made headlines by giving a speech written entirely by artificial intelligence.

It was a way to illustrate the dangers of site like Chat GPT and the need to act before it takes hold like social media.

"You look at the data from the last decade about mental health deterioration," explains Auchincloss. "Particularly in young girls, but young boys as well. It really correlates with the release of iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. Where we had for the first-time high-quality front-facing cameras."

And while some may want to point a finger at the parents, Hari says big tech companies have made it impossible to resist.

"At the moment," Hari explains. "It's like someone is pouring itching powder over us all day, and then they are leaning forward and going, 'Hey buddy you should learn to mediate then you wouldn't scratch all the time.' And you want to say 'I will learn to meditate? That's really valuable! You need to stop pouring this itching powder on me!'"

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