With the introduction of social media, popular culture has become entrenched in the lives of most teenagers. The majority of studies support the idea that social media has taken over most people’s lives. What people fail to consider is the impact of social media on their lives. Facebook “mates” are now more important to society than the other individuals they associate with on a regular basis. There are advantages to using the internet, but there is also the potential for harm. Overuse of social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat will pose some risks. These applications are a significant factor in young people’s low self-esteem, anxiety, and vulnerability. Teenagers will always engage in cellphone in any free time given. Most of the teens text, troll, scroll, share and use the internet to complete their homework assignments. The time that the teens engage in cyber communications is more than the time they interact in person and share their experiences. This paper is going to focus on how the social media has negatively affected the teens.
Teens are nowadays antisocial even in their free time. They normally keep themselves occupied in the late hours and what they will be found doing is scrolling their phones, texting, trolling, and sharing (Alison, Ashley and Amber, 2006, p. 580). Before the advent of Instagram, teens always kept themselves busy. When hanging out on a park, they were always glued on their phones. Today, teens will never be found in groups interacting instead, they will be communicating through their phones. Teens today are brought up and they end up missing critical social skills. The online communication disables verbal learning since every time is put in a non-verbal disable context. Facial expression, body language, and vocal reactions have today lost their meaning.
The danger of teens communicating indirectly is that they get bullied easily through the internet. Teenagers’ text crazy things that someone would never wish to be told. The words are normally cruel and they are depicted as a form of bullying. Teens disagree in a way that they will never do in their real life person to person. In a real social life, individuals are taught that they must argue politely to avoid jeopardizing their relationship. On the other hand, the social media version states that they should disagree in an extreme manner that later may ruin their relationship. This is exactly what teens do not want to happen but the digital world forces them to be so.
It is a scary thing to parents that most teenagers use their phones when driving on the highway, walking beside a road and when crossing a road. Teenagers develop a sense of self-confidence when they pick calls and text when they are driving. They do not know that they are risking their lives when they drive with one hand and text with the other. Potentially, they are not only putting themselves at a risk but also other road users. It is a common thing to find people using their phones every time they are on the road. These messages, tweets, updates, and changing music can sometimes wait. Cell phones are not that important than human life and wellbeing.
Stalking has become a thing in most of the teenagers’ life. All they think about is what is going on in the applications that they have. There is always constant notification popping up on their phones and they are eager to know who have liked their post or photos. It is strange because, in this world, people cannot live an hour without checking what is happening on social media. a teen knowing that he/she has a text message and is not able to answer it immediately makes him/her depressed and anxious. There is constant pressure on the applications that are on the phone that makes the teen want to keep up with everything. They want to make sure they know what is trending, being caught in the drama and making sure they know everything in school the next day when it is going to be discussed by the peers.
The 24/7 availability pressure on social media leads to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders amongst teens. Lack of enough sleep makes them be at risk for depression, anxiety, and poor health. The use of social media at any point is significantly related to a decreased level of student participation in class, extra-curricular activities and lowering their self-esteem. The teenagers who use their phones specifically late in the night are the group which seriously affect their sleep hours. The teenage years are accompanied by the experience of vulnerability, anxiety, and depression, and not getting enough sleep makes them susceptible to these conditions (Hawton et al., 2012, p. 2373).
The cross-cultural evidence depicts body image to have much influence in the social media. Body image is a major issue for many teens, both girls, and boys. Females who spend most of their teen life on social media have developed body image issues compared to the non-users. The social media is strongly concerned with dieting, self-objectification, dieting, and body surveillance. The media always post articles that are based on body image and how to maintain it (Valkenburg, Patti and Jochen, 2009 p. 3). The teenagers admire the flawless bodies of the models forgetting that most of them are photoshopped. This makes the teens have the pressure of becoming flawless and perfect. Their minds will be racing on hitting the gym to get to the size that is admirable in the social media. Some of the visual platforms that always talk about body goals are YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. These platforms are where teens get to compare themselves with the others. The most susceptible users are the ones who devote most of their time posting, commenting, sharing, and comparing themselves with the other pictures. Most of the students who are always on Facebook always compare their worth with their body image. Remarkably, the females are the ones who normally get body image and eating disorder, however, social media can equally destroy both.
The social media has made the teens be more comfortable and less sensitive to explicit contents and images. Most of the times they are online doing things that are not meant for them like, sexting. Many teens prefer being engaged in sexual activities online than meeting someone physically for sexual activities. Some of the applications make it easier for them to do so. It is in these applications that they acquire a sense of security simply because they are behind their gadget. They take semi-nude photos or have a sexual conversation through Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. However, they normally are worried and depressed if some of their photos get exposed to the others and then cyberbullied. Some of the suicidal cases in teens have their origins from body cyberbullying/shaming (Hawton et al., 2012, p. 2373). No matter how intensive the bullying is, teens still become more comfortable sexting online, than socializing physically. The online applications have made it easier for the teens to embrace and engage in kinds of stuff that are not meant for them.
Teens who are highly engaged in social media have an identity crisis. Most of them portray the image of somebody else in the social media than they are when they are with the family members. Nowadays, teens live a double life and are not consistent. Some of the students may post staffs every day that totally contradict what teachers and parents taught them(Alison, Ashley and Amber, 2006, p. 580) .
Finally, social media makes it easier for students to cheat easily in their school assignments. They easily get answers or typed work samples on different websites. Some of them normally share the answers with their friends through their smartphones. Heavy usage of social media also leads to drop in students’ average grade.
Social media becomes toxic to teens when they become corrected later than expected. Adults should set a good example and educate the younger generation about the effects of social media. To minimize the risk associated with social media means that adults have to limit their own consumption first. Parents should set a good example of computer usage. Kids imitate what adults do. When the teens start seeing that their parents are always busy with their smartphones they become curious and start inquiring. Later, they acquire smartphones and start digging out for more information. Social media should be embraced for doing good rather than destroying teens morals.
Alison Bryant, J., Ashley Sanders‐Jackson, and Amber MK Smallwood. “IMing, text messaging, and adolescent social networks.” Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication11.2 (2006): 577-592.
Hawton, Keith, Kate EA Saunders, and Rory C. O’Connor. “Self-harm and suicide in adolescents.” The Lancet 379.9834 (2012): 2373-2382.
Valkenburg, Patti M., and Jochen Peter. “Social consequences of the Internet for adolescents: A decade of research.” Current directions in psychological science 18.1 (2009): 1-5.