The Impact of Social Media on Youths.
The development of internet has been on the rise in the recent years leading to establishment of social media platforms that have become critical in the human daily life and interactions. In this era, perception of life has really changed. People tend to forget the perception of life being too hard to live to an analogy of it becoming simple and easy to survive on this planet earth. People are becoming more interdependent and more interconnected, with the establishment of modern technology and modernization, bringing everything one may need at just the ‘tap’ of finger tips. Amidst these advancements however, many young people are trapped into the snare of social media, being the most popular among the young generation. Many individuals in this category are unable to control themselves due to their addiction to this platform. Social media addiction has far much reaching consequences, from living in the world of fantasy life away from reality, development of poor study habits, bad health among others
We can start by defining social media by postulating that it is a conglomeration or a collection of websites, applications and other platforms that enables a user to create or share content, and is also essential in social networking. This platform is not restricted to blogging or sharing pictures, but it possesses strong tools for networking. In this essence, it gives a platform for connection and interactions between societies and across different classes of people, and races.
Most lives of the youth today are centralized on social networks. Through sharing pictures, secrets, emotions, moments with just a single tap on the ‘post’ option. Unknowingly they tend to cope their lives with fellow friends, idols, or any content which could be trending at that particular time. In this content, we can say that social network has a closer impact o the life of the youth, though being virtual, and drastically affects the lives of many youths (Abdullah & Chan, 2016, p. 199).
Let’s take a case point on one of the most popular social networking sites called Facebook. A major contribution by this platform is the ability to allow interaction amongst many users in this platform. Users are able to communicate freely and have the access to most important updates and news across the globe. This platform also allows for information exchange amongst users, and provides an opportunity for reconnection with friends and loved ones. Social media is the conduit for communication has been the trend for modern day communications, replacing the traditional word of mouth, by reducing time and costs.
According to researchers, social network affects a youth’s perception on friendship and intimacy. Marvick and Boyd argues that teens’ ideas and perception on friendship has been greatly influenced by their imaginations in the on-line world. they think that having a large network of friends and followers is their definition of friendship, and can be the basis of their support. This leads to a decline in intimate friendships. Their personal support is derived from support from virtual friends who ‘likes’ comments and give feedback to their postings (Marwick ; Boyd, 2014).
Further research reveals that the best preferred mode of communication of teens is texting. This leads to a decrease in connection as opposed to face to face communication. Other studies on the various forms of communication between friends show that in person conversation is the most convenient. The more interpersonal communication, the more connected the friends become. For instance, video chats rates higher than phone calls, but phone calls create greater connections as opposed to texting (Marwick ; Boyd, 2014). Now, from these researches, it is evidently clear that social networks influence the teens view of friendships, giving them a blurred view of how things should be in reality.
Even though there are proponents saying that we can find friends and acquittances from social media sites, the relationship based from these encounters are short termed. Friendship cannot be said to be reliable not unless these people also find time for each other in real life. The virtual social platforms allow for users to add much of exaggerated information about themselves in a bid to paint a nice picture. Lots of lies are often associated by users in terms of nationality, appearance, age, thus bringing lots of confusions by other end users.
According to a recent report by Pew Research center, 95% of teens are using smartphones with 45% agreeing that they are online almost all the time. About 85% are on YouTube while 70% are on Instagram and Snapchat. An individual many tend to think that ‘socializing’ would have the tendency of making teens more connected than ever. Cori McAbee, a teacher disagrees with this analogy. She argues that social network has crippled many students when it comes to interactions other than having a close contact in person, deteriorating the ability to communicate.
Experts reveal that the very concept and meaning of ‘social’ media is misleading. They argue that the more time teens spend on the networking platforms, the lonelier and more anxious they do become. A correlation between usage of smartphones and lower satisfaction with life exists, as postulated by Jacob Berkely. He explains further that interactions on the social media is of no benefit, and only electronic. The higher rate of cell phone use, the more time spent on the social media, arousing levels of anxiety. Peer relationships worsen in the more usage of phones.
Aric Sigman, a psychologist notes that the use of social network sites as opposed to face to face communication could lead to serious major problems. Spending much time online could lead to loneliness, isolation and negative outlook. These are psychological symptoms and could lead to more serious health issues like dementia, cancer and heart disease. Usage of social media distorts establishment of deep relationship with others. Teens argue that when they use social media, they don’t require a lot of movements, they don’t need to be active a lot, and also are okay with their present state to stay immobile. This can naturally lead to physical and mental disorders (Media Advertisements ; Students, 201).
Most youths are exposed to hacking and relationship fraud on the social media. Hacking involves the process of gaining unauthorized access to information about someone or an organization. Hackers often find access to information about their victims on social sites, often when the users forget to log out from these platforms (Quinn ; Oldmeadow, 2013). The Victims are subjected to alteration of their information and may even use the opportunity to justify untrue statements. Hackers may post irrelevant information, nude pictures or anything that tarnishes the name of the user. Several cases of hacking have been reported on these platforms, i.e. in Facebook, due to inadequate encryption and online data privacy procedures. This phenomenon leaves the individual subject to more threats (Buchmann, 2013).
Psychologists say that social media is possible to change the character of teens. They further support this by arguing that virtual communication reduces the ability to show compassion towards others also known as empathy (Costa-Sánchez ; Míguez-González, 2018). It becomes almost impossible to develop interpersonal communication through internet. Despite the benefits accrued from the establishment of the world wide web, it doesn’t give room for people to show elements of emotions simultaneously, show concern and care about someone and receive answers immediately. Human mind is built such that it perceives more than 70% of information from the external surrounding using nonverbal means of leading conversations such as mimics, gestures and postures. The social media confines this reality, by limiting people to experiences the wonderful benefits of face to face communication.
In a class context, the social network is appraised of its ability as an outlet for meeting new people and expressing an individual’s opinion. However, students may be misusing this opportunity. The sites are created to keep in touch with friends and family. Through this platform, students easily post their statuses, post pictures, check in locations. Another aspect this platform gives to students is ability to customize their profile and other personalizing features. A striking impact of this platform on students are addiction (Goodyear, 2018). By simply filling a void in a lonely student’s heart, it can provide a source of comfort, making the student to be more dependent on this platform. This leads to a release of Dopamine, the same chemical released in the brain during food consumption and drug consumption, released when answering or releasing a notification form a social network. Receiving or answering notifications form these platforms results in hitting dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter involved with motivation and reward response in human brain. In the consumption of drugs, an introduction of each pill has the tendency to recharge an individual’s addictive impulse. This is the same replica in a teens brain with introduction of a notification, recharging his/her own addictive impulse (Hejase, 2018).
According to a research on student anxiety and depression in 2018, it showed that teens are becoming more lonely, anxious and depressed than ever before. A third of the students surveyed revealed that these teens would feel constant sadness or hopelessness, a state which is being attributed by social media. When an individual develops depression and withdraws from his /her peers, they see other people on the social media smiling and having good fun moments, their sense of isolation is magnified (Gogoi., 2016).
Many people are in the agreement that the social media networks are potential attention distracters for teens and students. The effects are harmful to student’s productivity and a factor for decreased student’s academic performance. Researchers posit that the social sites make the students lazy and not committed to academic work. Instead of optimizing their time on classwork, they easily get sidetracked from notifications from the networks. A student can never realize the harm they are doing to their academic performance, leading to loss of focus and sense of direction (Howard, 2007).
According to Such ; Criado, they give a piece of advice to teens especially college students on how careful they should be when posting any information on the social media platform. The platform provides a network of friends, which may include potential CEO. They may land in the hands of the same CEO who was previously among his list of friends and if the individual would be posting irrelevant information or criticizing the company, they may never have the chance to land that job (Such ; Criado, 2018).
The establishment of social networking sites has opened avenues for cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has been on the rise, with many people becoming victims. This form has escalated harassment to higher levels, hence becoming a social concern. Users who would want to avoid fear of confrontation and law reprisals have the audacity and feel free to insult, harass their victims as they wish and often goes unpunished. (Collopy, n.d., p. 300). These bullies with their hidden identity, causes great damages for the victims, not limited to heightened senses of anxiety and stress (Such ; Criado, 2018).
In a more serious approach, cyberbullying, as opposed to traditional forms of bullying gives the unknown identity users to post personal information, a case which is more detrimental than face to face confrontation. The personal information becomes permanent, and will always be on the internet, attracting thousands of individuals to access and view the information, leading to damage in reputation. These views are untraceable, and to add more, these other users have the option in the share button, of which they can easily do this, increasing more torture and humiliation to the victim (Veltri, 2018).
Social platforms posit a damaging impact on the lives of students because it can adversely affect their relationship with others, making them inattentive and can also be subjected to cyberbullying. The choice of how they should perform is within their hands (“II. Social Media und Institution,”). Ability to have better grades and what they want to achieve in life are within their capabilities. However not unless they control their exposure to social media networks, they have the power to scramble everything. Cyber bullying may greatly affect their performances leading to low esteem and lack of motivation (Velicu ; Marinescu, n.d., p.173).
Regardless of either side, social media has many positive practical implications on the youth. The youth can think of superior designs of their profiles, share informative content on the posts and even become personal bloggers: (Zhong, n.d., p 157). As we speak there are lots of young bloggers who design different pictures on Instagram and posses the power to write powerful experiences on their personal lives. It has become a trend to share ideas on healthy lifestyle across bloggers. These bloggers advertise vegetarian food, eco-friendly products, sweets without sugar just to mention a few. Having pictures in yoga clubs, gyms and even swimming pools encourage followers to develop a healthy lifestyle, which becomes of much benefit to individual personal life (Yuliarti, Anggreni, ; Utari, 2018).
To conclude, social media are indeed an indispensable aspect in our modern way of life. We cannot wink at the development and advancements of technologies because everything changes day by day. We have to cope with time and space. Even though social media has a number of positive impacts on our lives and ways of interaction, its side effect can never be winked at. It has greater impacts on a teens life, influencing studies, making us live away from reality, developing physical and mental problem that could be easily avoided, and also being subject to cyberbullying (“II. Social Media und Institution,”). According to my opinion, ignoring social networks should not be an option but rather, through sensitization, we can address these issues through public forums.
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