Over time, social media has taken different paths considering the advancements in the levels of technology. Various platforms are categorized under social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All these platforms give users the ability to access navigated information from different parts of the world, as well as, interact with other users who are in different geographical locations. Majority of the young people say more than 50% of them globally have access to social media. The half percentage makes them the majority of the users of social media. The use of social media has elicited both negative and positive effects among teenagers. In the below paper, a discussion will follow on the effects of social media on the young people and recommendations on how social media should be used appropriately to benefit the teenagers.
Negative effects of social media on the teenagers
Prolonged use of social media results to depression and anxiety among the young generations. For example, spending too much time on social media can reveal things about your friend or partner that one did not know before. Such things or vices can be negative to a point that depression and anxiety take the best part of a person. Depression may result in suicide cases among young people. From the article “Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation,” rates of teenagers’ depression have increased in the year 2011 due to continuous use of their mobile devices (61). Additionally, the article highlights that the more time teens spend on their phone screens, the more likelihood teenagers will report symptoms of depression and anxiety (64). Finally, from the article, the study conducted on the eighth graders revealed that teens who heavily use social media increase the risks of experiencing depression at about 27 percent (64).
Cyberbullying is common among teenagers using social media. Some of the cases of suicide are due to the cyberbullying taking place in some of the social media sites. A lot of stalking takes place in social media. Once a person post photos and ideas, another individual might be busy discrediting by using abusive languages which demean the other individual. Some of the teenagers create groups where they bully participants to a point of making them start feeling committing suicide. Several cases are reported in the US of instances where teens commit suicide due to cyberbullying. According to the article “Just Between You, Me and My 622 BFFs”, in the city of Massachusetts, a young lady by the name Phoebe Prince hanged herself after receiving sexual gossip messages via text and Facebook. In addition, in Long Island, Alexis also took his life due to cyberbullying (450). In the city of Missouri, a girl was reported to have taken her life after allegedly engaging in romance escapade with a boy she had never met. It was found that the rumors were posted by her neighbor for revenge purposes (Just Between You, Me and My 622 BFFs” 449)
Social media among teens causes low self-esteem and negatively affects the body image of girls. Most Instagram users live a lie. People will always post the photos in which they are in their best attire or on holidays. This makes the young feel like they are missing a big part in life, which is actually a lie. Some people are even comfortable posting some of the things associated with their private lives. If a teen user of social media does not feel comfortable posting some of the things associated with her private life, then it easily causes low self-esteem. In some cases, teens end up posting their private lives only to be ashamed later due to trolling, which is very common with the platforms nowadays. The girls experience high pressure of looking beautiful and being considered as ‘hot’ ladies of society. From the article ‘Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers’, girls participating on these social sites are required to post pictures which they receive likes. In the event one receives little likes, it means few people are fascinated by their body. In the end, the number of likes she receives affect her psychology and at times results in suicide (13). The girls are much concerned with how they look on social sites and end up comparing their bodies with some of the online porn stars (Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers page 17).
The continuous glare of the phone in assessing social sites reduces the level of sleep among the young generation. Also, the social sites are addictive leading to cases of Insomnia. In the year 2012-2015, the teenagers failed to have enough sleep of about 9 hours by significantly reduced to 7 hours. More than half percent of the teens are having less sleep in the year 2015 as compared to 1991 (Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation? 65). From the article ‘Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation’, it is believed that the smartphones are the leading cause of lack of sleep among the teens and results into depression (65).
Positive effects of social media on the teenagers
Social media has several advantages only when utilized in the most appropriate ways. Some users are young and shy, making social media the only opportunity they have to communicate with others. Such people might be having ideas they would like to share with others, only that they lack the right platform to share. Social media, therefore, creates an opportunity for all people to communicate effectively and share information. This can only be achieved if the young people use it for the right purposes. For example, during holidays, students can use various platforms to communicate with each other regarding matters to do with their learning. Group works can even progress easily during the holidays. The young are also given an opportunity to conduct researches when the need arises. A lot of fake news is always made available on the internet. A huge percentage of people likely to provide fake news on the internet are the old. The teens or rather the young get the opportunity to debate such information especially if they are highly informed. Without the social media platforms, it would not be easy for them to debate such fake news. According to the article, ‘Teens Are Debating the News on Instagram, social media creates awareness of flop account with bad people and bad information that people should be aware of and avoid (4).
Social media is positively used in pursuing a political agenda that is beneficial to the many citizens of a country. There is power in the social media because lots of information is conveyed and get to reach a wider network of people. Social media creates political awareness and engagements among the youths to enlighten them about the socialized systems of the country. An example is in the countries such as the UK and Australia where teenagers supported the political movement and engagements (“What Parkland Tells Us About Teens and Social Media” 7)
Young people can also use social media to create awareness and make new friends for business purpose. The article ‘Social Media and Friendships’ explain that teens are in agreement there is a lot of information shared online through social media, which can be used for creating business partners or market for products (2). The awareness can be created in case there are emergencies or something that needs an alert. For example, young people can learn about planned attacks by bad people such as terrorists or other forms of gangs after which the need to create awareness arises. When they learn of such information, they can then inform the general public through social media. Awareness can also be created when there are festivals or other special events expected to happen. This helps in attracting many people who are willing to attend such events. Considering the rise in the number of events that young people are hosting nowadays, social media can be a very good platform through which such young people can advertise their events. Marketing of small businesses by the young can also be made easy and possible through social media. Many people are benefiting a lot from marketing their businesses online.
Many young people can use the internet to learn about mental health problems. Depression and anxiety affect adults, to the extent of contemplating suicide. Such problems really need help from experts. Young people facing such challenges can easily seek help and guidance from social media, whereby they can easily access experts or even information that can prove to be helpful. Apart from that, they can as well guide others who seem to be facing the same challenges on where they can get help. By reading some of the online blogs and watching videos, teens can learn how to overcome mental distress and live a better lifestyle. Additionally, social media provides the opportunity of engaging young people in healthy conversations, which focuses on health issues facing teens (“Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health” 13).
To avoid depression instances, it is necessary for young users of social media to control the amount of time spent on social media. On average, it is recommended that social media users should only spend about 30 minutes per day on social media. This means that spending more than the 30 minutes on social media can actually lead to unwanted depression and anxiety, therefore resulting in some mental disorders. To avoid negative effects, the young should indulge in activities that promote their well-being, even if it means participating in their hobbies. They should find better alternative ways to spend their free time instead of spending too much of the time on social media.
As seen, social media cannot be avoided especially with the current levels of technology. However, the use of social media should be controlled to avoid bad circumstances. Just like drugs, social media is very addictive. Such addiction to social media by the young can result in negative effects. Various entities should come together to help people, especially the young on learning how to control the use of social media. Parents, teachers, lecturers and the general population at large should be on the forefront in ensuring that young people do not get addicted to social media. The disadvantages associated with social media are mainly as a result of addiction. Education regarding the various social media platforms can also be made available. The main focus should be on educating the young on how to effectively utilize social media without necessarily getting addicted. Social media is not only associated with disadvantages but also advantages as seen above. If utilized appropriately, young users can extract a lot of information from social media; hence, growing their general knowledge. Lastly, young adults can use social platforms to promote their newly established businesses.
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