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Interview With Oxford University Lecturer Anton Jager; Interview With Council On Foreign Relations Fellow For Europe And Historian And Political Scientist Liana Fix; Interview With Brown University Former President And "Up Home: One Girl's Journey" Author Ruth Simmons; Interview With The New York Times Contributing Editor And "This Is 18" Author Jessica Bennett; Interview With American Psychological Association Chief Science Officer Mitch Prinstein. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 04, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
The far-right marches into the many streams from America's MAGA, to Sweden, and Italy, and beyond. We look at what's driving this trend now.
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUTH SIMMONS, FORMER PRESIDENT, BROWN UNIVERSITY: When you educate yourself, when you succeed, when you advance, you're advancing your entire
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- from the cotton fields of East Texas to the first Black Ivy League president. My conversation with Brown University's Ruth Simmons, as
she traces her journey with a new memoir, "Up Home."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADDI: Hi, I'm Addi. I'm 13 years old and I live in Norton Shores, Michigan.
ANNA: I'm Anna. I'm finishing up middle school near Denver, Colorado.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- teenage angst today. "The New York Times" Jessica Bennett and Psychologist Mitch Prinstein tell Hari Sreenivasan about the long-term
effects of social media on kids' brains.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
A show of support at a crucial time as E.U. foreign ministers gathered in Kyiv this week for their first ever meeting outside the union. But nerves
are jangling across the West after far-right Republicans in the U.S. trying to shut down government threatened funding for Ukraine in its fight against
And after Putin's sympathizer, Robert Fico, led his party to victory in Slovakia. While on the campaign trail, the former prime minister had said
that if elected, he would stop sending weapons to Kyiv, appealing to a rise in anti-western and pro-Russian sentiment.
That is something the far-right has also tapped into across the continent, from Hungry to Italy, to Finland, to Germany. In a recent "New York Times"
column, Oxford University History Professor Anton Jager says, "Europe's extreme-right tide has been a long time coming."
I spoke to him and to Liana Fix of the Council on Foreign Relations who says, political leaders in the U.S. and Europe should try to fireproof
financial and military aid to Ukraine as part of their long-term budgets.
AMANPOUR: Welcome both of you to the program. Anton, you're sitting with here me, and I'm going to ask you as well, Liana, what you make of the
latest, sort of, eruption of far-right? What signal does this send?
ANTON JAGER, LECTURER, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: I think it speaks to a really striking time in the last four and three years is that the far-right has
been on the rise in Europe at least 30, 40 years but it's always quite a gradual ascend. But we've seen since COVID and the Russian invasion of
Ukraine is that there's been a real jump in that now the far-right is becoming a unified force across Europe and it's also becoming a pretty
normal force of government, and this is quite a new development.
AMANPOUR: OK. I'll get back to you on that. Normal force of government. Liana, that sounds different. I mean, the far-right was always seen to be
something that had to be controlled by the mainstream.
LIANA FIX, FELLOW FOR EUROPE, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS AND HISTORIAN AND POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Yes, it also comes together with a feeling that
European far-right parties are trying to tone down the West and are trying to appeal more moderate to the electorate. We see this with Marine Le Pen
in France. We also see it obviously with Giorgia Meloni in Italy, which pursues now pro-western and pro-Ukrainian position.
So, there has been a move to the mainstream by the far-right. There are some exceptions though. In Germany, for example, the far-right AfD is
becoming ever more radical and getting approval, more approval at the same time. And the vote in Slovakia was certainly something which was closed.
Progressives in Slovakia have not been too far behind Robert Fico. But for Ukraine, this is certainly a major setback.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you before I go back to Anton, why now? Why is the AfD becoming more radical and more popular? How does that work?
FIX: This is surprising. The AfD has not gained this kind of popularity. It is now up 20 percent, the second strongest party in opinion poll in
Germany. It has not been in this position during the pandemic. It has not been in the position during the war and the height of the energy crisis.
What it is really benefitting now is from the crisis fatigue from the long act of crisis and how much dissatisfaction with the government, which is
providing further ground for the AfD.
AMANPOUR: And, Anton, do you think that's a little bit what, I don't know, Slovakia and others are riding on? Is that that sentiment and why suddenly
is somebody like Fico in Slovakia benefitting from an anti-Ukraine?
JAGER: Yes. I mean, that might be the case for Slovakia but what we saw in Italy, for example, is that when Meloni got into government with the
Fratelli d'Italia is that she did moderate her rhetoric. She became more pro-NATO. So, far-right parties also have some flexibility on those issues.
I think what is specific about the AfD in Germany is that it's mainly the inflationary crisis. So, Germany has a low wage economy and that means
wages are very sensitive to -- and climate purchasing power. And then, it's also a function of the failure of traditional parties.
So, the success of the AfD is really an effect of traditional parties in capacity to maintain and keep their base. So, it's not necessarily their
AMANPOUR: OK. But you say and your article was -- you know, basically you say, Europe's extreme right tide has been a long time coming. Why? How?
JAGER: Well, because the factors that are still driving its success today are much older. They don't date to three or four years ago. They're not
just a project -- product, sorry, of the Russian invasion of Ukraine or of the recent inflationary pressures. They go back to the '80s and '90s when
the current European Union was constructed, and that means there's a profound demobilization or profound disaffection with politics that is
overtaking a lot European countries already since the '90s.
So, fewer people are voting, fewer people are members of political parties. And at the same time, pro-market policies have really been dominant in each
country. And in the '90s and 2000s, mainstream parties were still relatively robust and strong and could withstand the effects of those
developments. But I think now the dam is really breaking and the tide that was building up at the time is now just overwhelming them.
AMANPOUR: So, the mainstream is not as able to defend its historic position. Anton's article suggested that the lack of, you know, strong
left-wing parties in unions meant workers were left behind and that, you know, such heavy-duty pro-market capitalist economies simply didn't cater
to these workers. Is that right?
FIX: It is most certainly one of the long-term reasons. But also, again, if we take the example of Germany here, workers are people who don't have work
at the time are only one part, only one-quarter of those that part of the AfD. There's also a large part of the population of at least of those --
whoever is part of the AfD that are in the middle class and have weight of losing their position in the middle class.
So, this kind of fear of going down and yet all economic prosperity is also a major force which is driving the popularity. And I would entirely agree
it is mainly coming from domestic reasons.
AMANPOUR: I want you to play something to both of you from Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of Germany who I spoke to at the U.N. Summit last week.
And she talks about something that you just touched on, migration as well as the other challenges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNALENA BAERBOCK, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We see the challenges in this globalized world after COVID. Now, with this brutal war where people feel
insecure and then, we have also the big migration issues. So, yes, this is also about sanctioning internal democracies and again, it's up to
democratic leadership to stand up for values but also understand that people in these times are really worried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Anton, what does democratic leadership, like the one she's talking about, do to counter this or to defend against this pressure?
JAGER: Yes. There is a problem with explaining the success of the far-right purely through migration. Because migration is not just a single topic
anymore, it's now a prism or sort of proxy for a lot of other topics. So, the idea that labor market competition or declining wages, the issue of
public services, cultural change, all of that is now channeled through the topic of migration.
And this is something that's not just a natural development, it's also been politically stimulated. So, it's increasingly difficult for European voters
and I think also for politicians to conceive of any issue not through the lens of migration. And what I find unfortunate about Baerbock's comments is
that she does seem to be playing into the same frame.
So, yes, people are worried, but maybe there are ways of talking about the crisis of public services in Germany, for example, that doesn't truly
attribute to migration. So, I think that seems to be a cop-out.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, there was more of the interview. And she did actually acknowledge that there needs to be, you know, an answer to economic fears
and legitimate worries as well.
But, Liana, how does a more mainstream democratic leadership deal with the far-right? Do you try to bring them in? Do you try to push them away? What
do you actually do?
FIX: There are two strategies how you can try to deal with the far-right. The first strategy is you isolate it. That's very much what was happening
in Germany for the last years, the so-called firewall that all parties voluntarily signed up to no cooperation with the far-right in Germany at
any level, no toleration. But there's also the other strategy, which says, well, we have to lean into the far-right across Europe. There are parties
that in governments that are tolerated by the far-right or where the far- right is part of the government in Sweden and Finland.
And by sort of leaning into these topics and embracing the far-right, we can tame it and make it more moderate in government. That's a discussion
which is taking place right now in Germany for how long to continue the firewall, that especially Angela Merkel has held up for a really long time
with the Afd. And there's, so far, mixed evidence for what is the most more successful strategy.
AMANPOUR: And, Anton, do you have -- I mean, are there any examples, for instance, of leaning into the far-right and moderating them?
FIX: Well, there are a couple of cases where either the far-right provide coalitional support as they did in the Netherlands or they actually
participate. And as Liana said, the evidence is very mixed. It's not very clear that they moderate their views. So, when Geert Wilders propped up the
coalitions of the liberals, (INAUDIBLE) in the Netherlands, afterwards, another far-right party, naming the Forum for Democracy actually came up
and pushed the entire political spectrum further to the right.
So, even if you don't let them into government or you don't rule with them, you can still adopt many of their talking points. And I think that is
actually what has been happening.
AMANPOUR: And how would you describe what's happened in Sweden, for instance, what's happened in Finland? I mean, the latest elections in
Finland moved much further to the right.
JAGER: Yes, I think the far-right in government doesn't necessarily get punished for policy mistakes. They have a base that doesn't expect that
much in contrast to the left. So, that means that even if they fail in government, they won't necessarily lose the next election.
What does happen is that they initiate a media offensive where they try to make some of their views more dominant and that creates the environment in
which they can win new elections. So, in that sense, keep getting them out of isolation or getting them out of quarantine is often a dangerous option.
AMANPOUR: Wow. That's so interesting. But particularly, Liana, I mean, the way, the way Anton described, you know, their voters don't actually expect
much and keep rewarding them for not delivering much. You could say the same is true of the United States if, indeed, Trump gets back. Well, he's
likely to be the nominee. But if he actually gets back into power. Would you say that that's the same playbook?
FIX: Well, interestingly, many European countries are looking towards the United States and are trying to learn lessons from how the United States is
dealing with Trump and its own domestic polarization for their own strategies and how to deal with far-right parties in Europe.
So, does it really help to bring them into government or are they just continuing populist views, not being accountable to any positions? So, to
some extent, the debate of the United States is giving some guardrails and some guidance to European countries where they do hope to prevent the kind
of polarization that we do see in the United States and also where they hope to prevent the kind of polarization around topics which are of crucial
importance, for instance, support for Ukraine, as we've seen now in Washington, D.C.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, let's just talk about that. After the -- you know, the whole shutdown debacle, and we know it's been postponed for another 45 days
and Ukraine was a big feature of this whole battle by the right-wing of the of the Republican Party. Donald Trump's former defense secretary, Mark
Esper, who broke with Trumpism was on the Sunday morning programs. And this is what he said about Trumpism around the world and also about what that
says to the rest of the world about America's commitment to democracy. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Vladimir Putin sits in Russia today and he looks across the landscape, and he sees United States of
America, which is unwilling to spend what it needs to on defense. It is now pulling back spending for Ukraine.
We had a vote today in Slovakia, a NATO ally in Central Europe that just picked a prime minister who is pro-Russian and has promised to cut spending
for Ukraine. Look, from his vantage point, the West is fracturing and he's going to continue to wait out the clock and maybe hope that Donald Trump
returns to the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Anton, some of those topics we talked about, but what do you think somebody like Putin or Orban or whoever, even the liberal Democrats
JAGER: I'm not sure that all of the far-right we see on the rise in Europe is necessarily good news for Putin. So, as we saw with Meloni, she's
quickly changed her mind. There are, of course, far-right parties, such as peace in Poland, who are actually staunchly pro-NATO. So, I think they're
more the exception than the rule when it comes to appropriate invoices on the far-right.
At the same time, there is a real question now that there is tension inside the United States as to how much they're willing to spend on the continuing
war effort. And that throws up the question of how much Europe is going to spend and how much Europe can remilitarize. And that is a very fractious
and difficult issue internal to European politics, certainly in Germany, because Germany still has a theoretical debt break. So, that means that a
certain level of state spending is simply not allowed, so to speak.
And there's now a discussion whether they need to suspend the debt break, which would also be a bulwark or a policy against the far-right. But it
also ties into the idea of like, yes, what is actually your mistake and what's happening at the moment.
AMANPOUR: Just one final question to you, Liana, the question that I put to Anton about what Mark Esper said about what Putin might be thinking or
other illiberal Democrats when they see what happens in the United States, when they see some of these elections and things happening in Europe, what
do you think? And how much does it threaten the U.S. in terms of being, you know, the global defender of democracy?
FIX: Most certainly, Putin is betting on the U.S. elections. From his perspective, it just doesn't make sense to stop the war earlier, to get
into any talks before the U.S. elections take place, because the U.S. is the most important country and is fulfilling this leadership role in the
At the same time, this vote in the U.S. Congress really raises questions of reliability with European partners. In the past, it has been very often
said from the Republican Party that the majority of does support Ukraine, that it will not be held hostage by a minority in the party, and these
kinds of reassurances, which have been told to European partners are now undermined.
So, the question of reliability of the United States of, well, is there a structural shift in the United States foreign policy? Are the years under
Trump just the exception or will they become the new rule? Those are all questions that are on the minds of allies, not only in Europe but also into
Indo-Pacific, in which have truly significance at a time of war where European countries have stepped up for Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: I want to thank you both. Thanks very much for this discussion. Thanks for coming into the studio, Anton Jager.
JAGER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
Next, an education. Ruth Simmons' humble beginnings sound like something from America's distant past, but thanks to her hard work and some help
along the way, she rose from a sharecropper's daughter to one of the most influential figures in U.S. education as the first black woman to lead an
Ivy League college when she became president of Brown University.
We discussed it all when we sat down in New York around the release of her new memoir, "Up Home" One Girl's Journey."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
President Ruth Simmons, welcome to the program.
RUTH SIMMONS, FORMER PRESIDENT, BROWN UNIVERSITY AND AUTHOR, "UP HOME: ONE GIRL'S JOURNEY": Thank you.
AMANPOUR: It is extraordinary to think that you were born in Texas, the youngest of 12 siblings, to a family of sharecroppers. They farmed cotton
on somebody else's land.
AMANPOUR: You talk about the luck that you had in your life that brought you from there to here. What do you remember about that moment, growing up
with that -- in that family and the luck that got you here?
SIMMONS: Well, as odd as it may seem to people, especially my students who are mystified by my reflecting on the, -- those times the way I do, I
remember it as largely a very happy time because after all, I was the youngest child of twelve children, two parents, all of whom were together.
They were working in the fields together, they were having meals together, they were doing everything together.
And so, it was -- I think of it as a family time in spite of the extraordinarily burdensome environment that we're in, which is pre civil
rights, deep segregation, poverty, all of those things that people tend to think about. But I was thinking about the fact that I was in the arms of my
family as a child. And that was a wonderful beginning before I even went to school.
AMANPOUR: So, you talk about they were, which means you were not, you were not out there sharecropping.
SIMMONS: I was -- the reality of sharecropping was that everybody was in the field. And so, when my mother --
AMANPOUR: From the age of six even.
SIMMONS: Well, when my mother and father had to go into the field, and everybody in the family had to go into the field, of course, even the
youngest would be in the field, though not hoeing and picking cotton and so forth.
And so, that was part of the tension between me and my older siblings. They complain about how they had to drag me along on their cotton sacks. They've
never let me forget that. But I was in the field but not, obviously, able to do the things that older children were able to do. But it was very
dependent on child labor. People don't talk about that much.
AMANPOUR: I mean, honestly, it reads very 19th century.
AMANPOUR: Not even 20th century.
AMANPOUR: It's really shocking, actually --
AMANPOUR: -- to consider that. And to -- it's shocking.
AMANPOUR: And you are the personification of having, you know, bussed through that. So, I'd like you to actually read from the beginning of your
book which explains not just the serendipity and luck but how you got to where you are.
SIMMONS: OK. This is from the prologue. I was born to be someone else. Someone that is whose life is defined principally by race, segregation, and
poverty. As a young child marked by the sharecropping fate of my parents and the culture that predominated in East Texas in the 1940s and '50s, I
initially saw these factors as limiting what I could do and what I could become, that in the end, I did not become the person I was born to be,
still, at times, confuses and perplexes me.
Throughout my 70 plus years, I've been struggling to understand why the early circumstances of my life did not in the end define me. I've now come
to realize that I have become the person that I am today rather than the person I expected to be because of the people I knew when I was young, my
family, my teachers, my community. They intercepted my modest expectations, boosted my confidence that the future could be different, and sent me on my
way with all the support they could muster.
AMANPOUR: It's incredible and it's an ode to all those people.
SIMMONS: It is.
AMANPOUR: Was there a moment or a special person?
SIMMONS: There was so many, frankly.
SIMMONS: I always recall -- first of all, my mother was extraordinary. She was telling me things that I didn't understand at the time. Certainly, I
didn't understand the importance that they would have on my life. But she said things like, never think you're better than anybody else. Wow. Respect
everybody. Never allow people, you know, to disrespect you. Those are the kinds of things I grew up with.
But then when I went to school, I remember the very first day I walked into a classroom. Now, keep in mind, I'm living in a shack. No electricity. No
running water. No books. Nothing. So, I walk into my first-grade classroom, and it is bright and it is orderly, and there's a desk for me. I'm coming
from a crowded household where I have no room as the youngest child, right? And there's a desk for me. And then there are books and utensils.
And furthermore, this woman in the classroom has the most wonderful voice. It is cheerful, it's optimistic, and she treats me, this country bumpkin
coming into her class, as if I'm somebody.
AMANPOUR: That's really remarkable.
SIMMONS: It is.
AMANPOUR: It really is and it --
SIMMONS: It is.
AMANPOUR: -- stuck for you all those --
SIMMONS: All those years.
AMANPOUR: -- all these years. And I wonder if that, in a way, caused you to feel a little bit like an outsider or an intruder on your families. I'm
going to read another part, which is really interesting, because this kind of sort of separation of experience and opportunity, you know, you said
sometimes it made you feel out of place, uncomfortable.
I wonder whether it did at home. You say, how could I speak of the beautiful train ride to the south of France or the ride along on the Camark
(ph) on horseback without an air of self-importance. I was at once embarrassed to be able to enjoy these experiences when they could not and
concerned that this new life would create a barrier between me and them. That feeling has remained even today. My life is immensely different from
those of most my siblings.
I mean, that's heavy.
SIMMONS: Well, you know, I'm so grateful to have been president to so many first-generation students. Because so many of them are feeling the same
thing. They're having all of these experiences and they know that their family is mired in poverty. Unable to do most of the things they can do.
And it is -- it hampers their experience in a way because there's a certain sadness about that to them. Because they worry that they don't deserve
that, when they -- when everybody else they love is in a different circumstance.
So, I think I felt that way most of my time going through school. And so, I didn't speak of it. I didn't tell people what I was going through. And I
did -- you know, I had a very -- I had a secret life. So, for example. I got on a bus when I was 17, a greyhound bus, and went to Mexico to live
with a Mexican family and to study Spanish, but I don't think I told my family what I was actually doing.
I think they were quite mystified by me, frankly, that I was doing these things. But I couldn't talk about it. Because what would it mean to say,
yes, I'm living in Mexico and I'm going to school every day and learning Spanish, and I couldn't talk about the cultural differences. I couldn't
talk about how it felt to me to be away from the segregated country where I grew up and living in a very different environment.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, there's all sorts of names for that, guilt --
AMANPOUR: -- imposter syndrome.
SIMMONS: Yes. Imposter syndrome.
AMANPOUR: All of that.
AMANPOUR: But imposter syndrome is not a good thing, especially for women.
SIMMONS: Yes. So, what I say is, well, keep in mind that this is a temporary condition. Because when you educate yourself, when you succeed,
when you advance, you're advancing your entire family. And at the time you're going through it, you can't see that as well. And so, I talked to
them about what's going to happen in their lives that will make it feel wonderful that they are able to help their family
AMANPOUR: I guess it's a way of getting into the tragedy of what's unfolding right now with the Supreme Court rolling back affirmative action.
You've obviously testified and done all you can to make sure that didn't happen. But it's happened.
SIMMONS: But it's happened.
AMANPOUR: What is your immediate thought about what that is going to lead to?
SIMMONS: Well, my immediate thought, when I testified at trial in the case leading up to the Supreme Court case, in the final analysis, I said, what
is to become of us as a country? And that's what I think about all the time. What is to become of us? We are a nation of diverse peoples.
AMANPOUR: What is to become of us as a country?
SIMMONS: What is to become of us as a country?
AMANPOUR: And what do you think will?
SIMMONS: Well, you know, I'm extremely hopeful and I have to be hopeful because, just like Ms. Ida May (ph) and all my teachers, at the time I grew
up nothing possible, everything was dark. And yet, there were these teachers who said, let's plan for our future that's different.
How could I believe in that when nothing around me said that my future was going to be different from what I saw? I thought I was going to be a maid.
Well, that's what we have to do for young people today because they're discouraged. They are making plans that suggest that they won't have the
AMANPOUR: Just as Elena Kagan during this whole roll-back and all the -- you know, the rulings, et cetera, was worried, like I'm sure you are, about
a precipitous decline in minority admissions and then, that leading to, you know, rolling back what she calls, these are the pipelines to leadership in
our society, she says, of elite universities and the affirmative action.
So, what is our society -- your society going to do, do you think, to keep those pipelines open to make it and to continue, you know, the opportunity
SIMMONS: In the interim, I believe we'll do what we did before. OK. And people don't remember the before, so that's why I'm here to tell people the
before. So, before affirmative action -- or at the beginning of affirmative action, many universities band together to infuse these settings with
But I'm not an elitist. And I don't believe that that has to take place in a white college, it doesn't have to take place in an Ivy League university.
I am constantly telling people about community colleges, about state institutions, about the wealth of institutions, we have, because I know
from experience that education can take place in lots of environments.
AMANPOUR: What do you think is the consequence of some other universities that people like governor of Florida and others are trying to just stop the
education of black history in America?
SIMMONS: Yes. It's ludicrous, but we've been here before. Now, keep in mind --
AMANPOUR: But are you willing -- you say that several times. Are you willing to take two steps forward and three steps back?
SIMMONS: It's not a question of being willing. It's a question of --
AMANPOUR: Or to accept it.
SIMMONS: Well, of course not. It's not so much a question of that, but an understanding of the evolution of society, culturally, politically and
otherwise, it would be wonderful if it were a straight line. That would be fantastic. But we know from history that it never is.
What I'm worried about is people being struck by this particular historical moment and thinking this is it. Well, it isn't. This is not it. Society
continues to evolve. But it's very dependent on how we react to it. How we respond in regard to these horrible practices and policies that have been
shaped. And if we accept it, yes, society will evolve in a particular way. But if we say, no. If we look for ways to make sure that students are
educated fully, then this will never come to pass. So, that's what I believe and I -- what -- and what I'm advocating that people do is get
AMANPOUR: Get busy politically or finding alternative roots around --
SIMMONS: In every conceivable way. In the days of deep segregation, you know, remember the governor standing at the school house door and blocking
entry of little children, adorable children. Yes, I mean that's been our history in the past. But it wasn't enough to stop progress because there
were people like civil rights activists who came along and said, we're going to protest.
There are people who went to the polls and voted and insisted this was not to be the policy of the land. And then there were universities and
institutions that said, OK, we're going to find ways to be -- to offer appropriate education for our students.
Universities have to stand tall in this moment. They have got to be strong in their views of how to make our campuses exemplars of how to live in a
very diverse society. But I don't like the discouraging talk that our students are hearing about how dreadful it is, and how evil people are, and
how we're really up against the worst time in our history, and things are going to be bad.
What does that do for a young person? And I go back to the fact that my teachers -- I had no vision for the future. I didn't believe in that,
right? But my teachers had that vision for me. They said things can be better, and here's why they can be better. And you can be part of making it
better. And just that hopefulness led me to want a life in education where I could do that for other students.
AMANPOUR: So, there's also, you know, a big sort of controversy about legacy admissions. How did they affect educational opportunities should
SIMMONS: What people have, perhaps, lost sight of is that our educational system grew up differently from almost any in the rest of the world. And
that is to say our universities are not uniformly supported by the state. They raise money. They raise money from loyal alumni who are interested in
getting their children into college, right?
And so, if you have a private system like that, you're going to have the kinds of relationships and the kinds of practices that try to keep the
doors open by fundraising. And that's where -- that's why legacy admission has become so strong. Has it been corrupted? I think it has. We've seen
evidence of that, and it shouldn't be.
So, will admission change? It's going to change for sure. And we're going to have to reflect deeply on the kinds of thumbs on the scale that we use
for various categories of individuals. Whether its athletes, whether artists, whether it's other -- whether it's others. But should you, by
birthright, have -- be entitled to get into an institution? I don't think so. I don't think so at all.
But I think you have to realize that alumni who had the capacity to help institutions won't necessarily be as generous if they cannot look to a time
when their children will be eligible to be admitted, that's a factor.
AMANPOUR: And does that lead, in your mind, to this crisis of, you know, so many less people going from high school to university, a precipitous
decline in people, you know, applying for universities, because of huge fees into earlier?
SIMMONS: We do need to do something about the cost of education. And that is probably the number one factor. A lot of them will probably fail in the
coming years because they can't, the tuition is too high. The students are not able to pay. And there won't be room for them.
But again, here's what I advise students who seek my -- they don't always like what I say, who seek my opinion when they're applying for college. I
tell them you can go anywhere. Start at a community college if you want to. That's very, very cost effective. OK? Start at a community college. And I
also say to the -- my Ivy League friends, shame on you if you are not accepting students from community colleges who wish to transfer into your
We are too segmented as a sector, it seems to me. We're too elitist as a sector. And that's why today, I'm advising Harvard's president on a
relationship with HBCU's, because it's way past time for people to talk about education itself. Not about the haves and have nots, but about what
we can do for this country and what we can do for young people who are aspiring. Think of what we can do by working together.
AMANPOUR: President Ruth Simmons, thank you very much indeed.
SIMMONS: Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The prospect of college is just one of the many challenges facing teenagers today. Social media has changed the way kids interact and behave.
Addicted to an online smart phone world. Even those who are not on the platforms are affected. "New York Times" Contributing Editor Jessica
Bennett, followed three 13-year-olds for a year. Witnessing the impact of social media on these girls' lives. Along with Mitch Prinstein, Chief
Science Officer of the American Psychological Association, they join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the trials and tribulations of being 13 today.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Jessica Bennett, Mitch Prinstein, thank you both for joining us.
Jessica, let me start with you. This is a fascinating read. You were able to follow three different 13-year-olds and all of their phone activities
for a year.
ADDI: Hi. I'm Addi. I'm 13 years old, and I live in Norton Shores, Michigan.
ANNA: I'm Anna. I'm finishing up middle school near Denver, Colorado.
LONDON: Hi, my name is London. I'm an eighth graders in Maryland.
JESSICA BENNETT, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES AND AUTHOR, "THIS IS 18": I spent the last year following three 13-year-old girls throughout
the course of their eighth-grade year to try to understand what life is like to be a teenager today.
SREENIVASAN: Why did you set out to do this in the first place?
BENNETT: Yes. Well, so I'm talking like a teenager these days because I've spent so much time with these girls. You know, for some time, I've covered
the lives of women and girls. And I've always been pretty interested in the static that shows that around the middle school age, girls' self-esteem
tends to drop, and it tends to drop much more significantly than their male peers.
So, this was in the back of my mind as all of these headlines and statistics started coming about girls and teens in general and social
media. You know, we were all behind our screens during the pandemic, and suddenly it became very concerning, teen mental health. And we know that 13
is the age at which teenagers are allowed to join social media, according to all these social media companies.
So, we thought wouldn't it be interesting to try to capture the intersection of this really precarious time in adolescent life and
particularly for adolescent girls, and when they are allowed to join these platforms, and what would it look like.
SREENIVASAN: You know, I want to say to the audience, you have the permission from the parents to follow these young women. So, tell me a
little bit about the three very different girls that you chose.
BENNETT: Yes. So, it was interesting because this was almost like a dual reporting project because everything that was happening, you were also
talking to the parents about. So, they were very involved. So, we had three girls, London who's in Maryland, Anna who's in Colorado, Addi who's in
Michigan. Really different, you know, geographically different. Ethnically different. Come from really different families. But the thing they had in
common was being this age, in eighth grade, in middle school when hormones are raging. Oftentimes, friendship heights get complicated.
You know, they're coming into the sexuality. They're searching for identity. And they're doing it all with a screen in her hand at all times.
And so, their parents had really different rules for them about how much access to phones or social media they could have. But one of the most
interesting things was to see that even the girl who wasn't allowed on social media, Anna, it was impossible to escape because everyone at school
was on it. So, it's not as simple as just taking away your kid's phone.
SREENIVASAN: Dr. Prinstein, you are the chief science officer of the American Psychological Association, and the organization has issued
multiple health advisories. Warnings to different parents about how and when they should be allowing their kids on social media, some of the, sort
of, pitfalls of it. When you saw -- and you've contributed to "The Times'" reporting in this, when you saw Jessica's piece, what did you think.
MITCH PRINSTEIN, CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: I thought it was fantastic, not just because I have a daughter who's also
13 but -- and in eighth grade. But because it's really breathing life into what the science tells us, you know, time and time again. 13 is maybe the
worst time in our lives that we would have our kids spending so much focus on screens. Actually, I should say the second worst time.
The first most important time for brain development is that first year of life, but coming right after that is that year or two as puberty is
beginning. We're starting to see changes in the body. But that means that changes are already started in the brain. And the changes that are
occurring in the brain are making us, oh, craving that peer attention, rolling our eyes at our parents, and talking about peers and how much they
reenforce us or being scared of getting punished by them.
So, to give them 24/7 access to nonstop, you know, reinforcement through clicking their mouse and searching online, not only is it potentially
something that might preoccupy them a lot more than we want. But we're now starting to learn it actually might change the way their brain grows over
the next few years.
SREENIVASAN: So, tell me a little bit about that. What's scientifically happening in the brain and why is that susceptible during that -- this
vulnerable period to, you know, what's happening in the body and so forth? But what is social media doing to the processes that are changing inside
PRINSTEIN: Yes, so the brain doesn't mature all at once. It matures region by region. And one of the first regions that changes is an area called the
anterior cingulate cortex, which basically is an area filled with oxytocin and dopamine receptors that suddenly multiply. So, we have way, way more of
them. That means that we're craving bonding with other peers and it feels really, really good when we do.
Now, this region is also associated with our addiction to illegal substances, that's where the dopamine kind of kicks in. But now, we're
seeing that social media is activating it in ways that just don't parallel the way that kids used to grow up.
So, back when I was growing up, you hung out with your friends then you went home. Maybe you get a phone call with them. Maybe you get some
opportunity, you know, playing in the neighborhood but not 24/7 worldwide quantified access controlled by artificial intelligence. That has changed
the context in which these brains were not developed to interact with and that's concerning.
SREENIVASAN: So, Jessica, what's interesting there is, you know, from what the doctor says, if the dopamine receptors are multiplying, if the kids are
getting such a benefit or a positive boost from those connections with friends, in your reporting, you're also showing that the inverse is also
true. It seems that they are taking it much harder during this time, you know, in their lives when there might be an off-line rift in a relationship
how it's playing out online is almost magnified. Explain what happened with one of the teens, kind of, going or maybe all of them going through
different kind of relationship issues.
BENNETT: So, a few of the things that played out, you know. There would be a disagreement over something. It would move into a group text. People
would start calling each other names. It would then move into Snapchat where disappearing messages would be sent. But not everyone in the group
would have Snapchat so they wouldn't know what the person was saying about them.
It would then eventually blow-up, end up in the school counselor's office, and the school counselor is sitting there saying, this is all I do now. And
sometimes it's so hard to even get to the bottom of these conflicts because the adults in the room, the administrators, the principals, the teachers,
they're not as technological savvy. So, that's part of this too. You know, watching these girls, and to their credit, they're very brave to share
SREENIVASAN: Dr. Prinstein, you know, there are so many different kind of pieces of research that get headlines today and are warnings about social
media, the correlations between social media use and self-esteem, social media use and suicide.
"The Economist", for example, ran some recent studies about that, and it looked like suicide numbers had, kind of, decreased from most groups except
for, essentially, I think girls aged between 10 and 19. Now, again, correlation is not causation, and I understand that and I want viewers to
know that. But -- well, looking at the body of research that's out there, what can we start to be definitive about saying?
PRINSTEIN: You're right. I mean, there's a lot of research coming out. And you know, some of it is not causal, of course, because we can't
experimentally manipulate some kids to use social media more than others and see how they turn out. That would be unethical. But we're getting what
I call warning signs, enough accumulating evidence to suggest there are some things, at the very least, we need to monitor, talk with our kids
about, and pay attention to.
We're seeing that kids are reporting -- and just as we were just hearing in the report, remarkable amount of stress because of all the platforms they
have to keep up with. What they're afraid they'll miss out on, and how much overload it is to gather all this information at once. The more the kids
are reporting what we call digital stress, the more they're experiencing depression a year later.
We're seeing effects on sleep and we're seeing the direct effect between social media use disrupted or delayed sleep, and that is actually changing
the size of how brains are growing over time. That's a pretty clear example of how social media is having this direct effect on the brain. We're seeing
addictive kinds of behaviors. What we, in the science community call, problematic social media use. With kids having tolerance and withdrawal
symptoms that interferes with their ability to engage in day-to-day activities. We're seeing discrimination and cyber hate and just being
exposed to that, whether it's directed to you or not as psychological consequence.
There's a lot more. I should say there's also positive effects of social media on kids' development. But it's not a one-size fits all kinds of
situation. Every kid uses social media in different ways and there are different things we need to do to make them all get the best out of it and
avoid the worst.
SREENIVASAN: So, Jessica as you point out, banning social media, banning phone use, well, it has kind of different unintended ripple effects that,
you know, maybe a parent wouldn't consider right off bat.
BENNETT: It's not just cyber bullying or it's not these really overt and exaggerated things that are occurring. This is like the daily anxiety that
exist in the background of knowing that there are 17 messages getting unanswered on your phone. There is a notification from your school to let
you know that the quiz that you took today has dropped your grade by two percent. There are news notifications.
You know, one of the girls that I was with, there was a school lockdown when I was with her. And, you know, that's a sad reality of our teenagers
and kids today. But how did everyone find out that that was occurring? It was a notification on the phone.
So, even in some cases, what the school administrators are saying is, you know, we really want to set strict rules about not having phones in class.
But oftentimes it's actually the parents who want to keep track of their kids. And in a straight (ph) situation like that where there's a lockdown
and the parents are finding out about it in that way, you can completely understand why they want to have access to speaking to their daughter by
So, it's tricky and seems that it's not quite as simple when we live in world in which social media and phones and really are all kind of blended
into one to just take one device away and think the problem is solved.
SREENIVASAN: So, Jessica, are the parents that you were speaking around these girls, did you see -- I don't know, that kind of trial and error on
what kind of policy worked for which girl?
BENNETT: Well, I think they're trying to figure it out as they go. And I guess what I saw via the most effective was these parents having pretty
open and honest conversations with their kids about what they were seeing. Asking really simple questions like, OK, well, how did that make you feel
when you saw that? And if it didn't make you feel good, could you identify what it was about what you just saw that made you not feel good?
And I think just like Dr. Prinstein said, mindfulness and understanding your feelings because we all do this, like, we're swiping along, we're
swiping away, we're going down rabbit holes. Three hours later you find yourself in a TikTok rabbit hole and you feel terrible about yourself and
the world. And we, as far as adults, who can distinguish between reality and misinformation, and sometimes these teens can't.
SREENIVASAN: Is there a difference in how a teen girl brain versus a teen boy brain is influenced by what's on these devices and social media?
PRINSTEIN: In some ways, no, not that we can see so far. So, the effects on brain, the effects on sleep on so many different aspects of development
that we've been talking about, we are not finding differences between boys and girls.
However, we are finding that girls live in a world where already there are unfair, double standard expectations on things like body shape or physical
appearance. There's an unfair, kind of, pressure to succeed in social relationships. And it's the interaction between social media which is
magnifying what might already have been happening and has been happening for decades to women. All line (ph) that might create a particularly toxic
combination of experiences for adolescent girls.
So, I would say that if you have a son, I would be just as concerned. But if you have a daughter, you probably want to recognize the unique ways that
social media is really poking at some issues that are already presented and pretty unfair ways to girls and women.
SREENIVASAN: So, Jessica, one of the things that was interesting was how social media wasn't really contained inside the phone. I mean, one of the
girls, London -- you know, her mom, what was it, she basically allowed her to watch TikTok so that she could learn some of these, kind of, viral
BENNETT: Yes. So, London was not allowed to be on TikTok until her 13th birthday and she had to present a very carefully thought-out case to her
mother about why she should be allowed, and they each signed a contract agreeing to specific rules. But once she was allowed on it, she could
stream it into the living room through their TV. And I -- so I came over to their house and they were dancing in front of the television set and I was
like, wait, what is this? Oh, it's TikTok. You can actually connect it there.
So, there's that. You know, there are all sorts of ways around having these apps. You can have apps that disguise apps underneath them. You can access
TikTok through YouTube from a desk top, from your school computer, like, there are all sorts of ways around. So, I kind of feel like the idea of
just not permitting kids without having the conversations about it on these platforms is futile. We just aren't as good at the internet as they are.
SREENIVASAN: Jessica, you chronicled several, kind of, darker moments as I was reading. But -- and I saw a couple of positive ones as well, and the
doctor talked about it. I mean, what kinds of positive benefits did you see in the lives of these girls that social media was, kind of, actively
functioning on that we shouldn't discount?
BENNETT: Yes, I mean, I think there's almost two things, there's social media and then there's the phones --
BENNETT: -- which they're using to socialize and always. And there are plenty of benefits to this. You know, there were lots of moments of joy.
Sharing silly photos. Sharing memes. Like, the way that they communicate in visual platforms is just very different from the way I grew up
Even on social media, you know, for marginalized communities in particular, oftentimes LGBTQ, you -- they can find community in like-minded people
there. So, there are real benefits to some of this. And I think that can often get lost in some of the headlines. There were real moments of joy and
there were silly moments. And they're still teenagers, they're figuring it all out, you know.
I think that the girls were really brave and honest in letting us document even some of the messier, more, as they would say, cringey parts of being a
teenage on social media. And they really hope, and I hope, that it can allow others to see something of themselves and maybe take a harder look at
SREENIVASAN: I'm sure, Doctor, that you get asked this by every other parent of a 13-year-old that your teenagers might be on school teams or
clubs or anything else with. But if you had any, kind of, overarching piece of advice that you think could work universally about both phones and
social media, what do you say to parents?
PRINSTEIN: Moderation. You know, I don't think it's an all or nothing, kind of, solution. Let your kids on for an amount of time that fits the way they
use it and their reactions of their having on it. That's not one amount of time for everyone. That's might be a half hour for some kids, and that
might be two hours for others.
I think it's important to talk with your kids about what they're experiencing on there, absolutely. I'd love for kids to get eight to nine
hours of sleep, which is recommended by many different scientific groups. So, you know, there's some tricky ways, I understand, that parents don't
feel empowered to be able to shut off their kids' phone on time. And I would say, dig into those parental controls. They're not as easy as they
should be, perhaps, to navigate but dig into them. Parents have a lot more power and gatekeeping ability than a they believe.
I'll say one last thing. We have done all kinds of class courses with undergraduates on this, and what we hear from 19 and 20-year-olds
consistently is, I wish my parents had not listened to my begging and pleading when I was 12.
Because now all these years later, I am seeing what happens and how dependent and incapable of paying attention and sleeping and exercising or
having an in-person conversation. I wish my parents were more comfortable being the bad guy or the bad parent back then, and didn't acquiesce to my
begging and pleading.
SREENIVASAN: All right. From the American Psychological Association, Dr. Mitch Prinstein, and from "The New York Times" Jessica Bennett, thank you
both for joining us.
BENNETT: Thanks for having us.
PRINSTEIN: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That is it for now. Remember you can always catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media. Thank you for watching, and goodbye