Facebook and Instagram are just two of the major social media platforms young people live and breathe as part of normal everyday life, but are they always positive places to be spending so much time? Instant (global) communication may be a blessing for some, and the ease of accessing news and information is a definite plus. Some applaud these sites for allowing the younger generation to have a platform from which their voice can be heard, but it also has its dark side; something which young people can be especially vulnerable to.
Some of this article will be backed up by a range of online resources. For further reading, I recommend that you check out the following articles as they offer an understanding as to how vast social media is and how much it has impacted the younger generation. This is something new in our society, but social media has now been picked up by most of the young era and it’s going to profoundly impact the future for them:
Here we look at just some of the negative effects of social media on young people
Poor mental health
The chance of mental health problems rises in comparison with the time spent on social media. So a young person who is on social media all day is three times more likely to suffer from depression than a peer who uses it once or twice a day. Other studies show a link between the two factors kicking in at just two hours of social media a day, much less than would usually be classed as ‘heavy use’ in a teenager or young adult.
Poor quality/lack of sleep
Checking social media on their mobile before sleep wakes up the brain and can trigger worries, and many wake and check things several times through the night too. Sleep deprivation can affect brain development, and make us function badly too.
Distorted body image
Photos posted to Facebook and Instagram are not always true and fair images of the person in the shot. From the pouting selfie to the airbrushed full length, they can be used to create the image we want, rather than the truth. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if all involved are aware, but youngsters are especially keen to, or vulnerable to pressure to, look a certain way. When what they strive for is not real then how can they ever hope to achieve it? This can trigger body distortion problems and eating disorders.
Weak social skills
Indirect communication, much of it meaningless stops young people learning the skills needed to interact socially in different situations. This can lead to low self confidence, problems in job interviews, and even difficulties in forming face to face friendships and romantic relationships.
When the world you are connected to seems to be out there traveling, having fun, spending, earning, achieving and looking fabulous, while you aren’t it isn’t difficult to see why comparing themselves to the idealized lifestyle others project leads to unhappiness. Many feel they fail to measure up in several ways – leading to depression, loneliness, or isolation.
Whatever the issues social media is here to stay, so the focus now must be on teaching youngsters how to use it realistically and responsibly. Ultimately a balanced life lived both on and off screen is the goal to aim for.
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Social Media has brought our society many benefits, but with this comes footfalls too. This article has looked at the negative factors as derived from Social Media, but we have to remember the benefits that social media will bring for us in years to come. Our society will now be more connected in ways that we never could have before. Jobs have been created and local businesses now have an opportunity to easily advertise and compete in ways that they never could have in the past.
It’s our job as a society to ensure that the children and younger generation have the opportunity to properly understand the benefits and negatives that social media can bring to their lives and allow them to properly build a path that doesn’t allow them to get caught up in all of the problems that social media can provide. We have to also remember that social media is a fairly new thing in our society and with all new things, we are unable to look at all of the issues that they can cause – look at how we looked at the smoking 60 years ago?
If you’re a parent, it’s very important to make sure that your child fully understands the extent that social media can have on their lives and it’s important to let them know that many of the negatives that we have mentioned here are not real-world problems – just online ones.
Also Read: My Experience: A Month without Facebook