Social media and its Negative impact on our youth
There is no doubt that social media is a very useful tool in today society for youths but sometimes it comes with its disadvantage. It can have a huge negative impact on youth and their self-esteem. The impact of social media use significantly affects brain development and increases anxiety and loneliness. social, emotional and cognitive development are only beginning to be studied, and the emergent results are serious. While the research is still in its early stages, it suggests that the Internet may be changing how our brains work. Too much hypertext and multimedia content has been linked in some kids to limited attention span, lower comprehension, poor focus, greater risk for depression.
Before social media became so popular, youths used to go out to the mall to hang out with friends or even after school now it’s about posting, scrolling, looking at others accounts and waiting for feedback. They post about their life all the time. One thing is clear is that modern-day teens are learning to do most of their communication while looking at a screen, not person to person anymore. Social media creates this big disconnect from the real world since they are always behind a screen which means they are missing out on important social skills. It isn’t that texting and online communication automatically creates a non-verbal learning disability, but it places everyone in this non-verbal disabled context, where kinesice, facial expression, and even the tiniest vocal reaction is invisible. “As a species we are highly attuned to reading social cues,” says Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist and author of The Big Disconnect.
One of the reasons social media have such a negative impact on youth is Sometimes teens spend so many hours on social media that they begin to lose valuable sleep. Consequently, this sleep loss can lead to moodiness, a drop in grades, and overeating, as well as exacerbate existing problems like depression, anxiety, and ADD. In fact, one British study published in the Journal of Youth Studies surveyed, 900 teens between ages of 12 and 15 were ask about their social media use and its impact on their sleep. What they found was that one-fifth of the teens said they almost always wake up during the night and log in to social media. The study also revealed that girls were significantly more likely than boys to wake up and check social media on their phones. In addition to reporting feeling tired all the time, they also reported being less happy on average than teens whose sleep was not disturbed by social media. What’s more, teens need more sleep than adults do, so logging into social media in the middle of the night can be detrimental to their physical health as well. For instance, aside from feeling tired and irritable, lack of sleep can lower the immune system and make it more likely for a teen to get sick.
While social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, it also is not the same as face-to-face communication. For instance, a teen cannot see a person’s facial expressions or hear their tone of voice online. As a result, it is very easy for misunderstandings to occur, especially when people try to be funny or sarcastic online. Many teens spend so much time online checking statuses and likes that they forget to interact with the people right in front of them. For this reason, friendships and dating relationships can suffer when social media takes center stage in a person’s life. As a result, teens risk having relationships that are not deep or authentic. Teens who place a priority on social media will often focus on the pictures they take that show how much fun they are having rather than actually focusing on having fun. The end result is that their friendships suffer. 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis according to Pew Research Center. Teenagers access social media more than any other. Social media such as Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are used to keep up with the latest changes, our favorite idols and an easy way to stay up to date with what our peers are doing. We have become so resistant to being able to contact someone with just a tap of a screen, that we have an entire conversation with someone in the exact same room without saying one word. We’d rather tweet or snapchat a pic to our friends than go and see them.
The largest negative effect of social media is cyberbullying especially for youth. Many youths today are very cruel and heartless towards their peers. Being behind a computer screen develops this confidence that you can be disrespectful and hurtful. The ease of creating false profiles and identities online has also had an impact on how often this happens. Being bullied online can lead young people toward having identity issues and in many cases can lead to depression and suicide. “Kids text all sorts of things that you would never in a million years contemplate saying to anyone’s face,” says Dr. Donna Wick, a clinical and developmental psychologist. She notes that this seems to be especially true of girls, who typically don’t like to disagree with each other in “real life.” “You hope to teach them that they can disagree without jeopardizing the relationship, but what social media is teaching them to do is disagree in ways that are more extreme and do jeopardize the relationship. It’s exactly what you don’t want to have happen,” she says. Sexting can be defined as sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images via cell phone, computer, or other digital devices. Many of these images become distributed rapidly via cell phones or the Internet. This phenomenon does occur among the teen population; a recent survey revealed that 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or seminude photographs or video of themselves. Some teens who have engaged in sexting have been threatened or charged with felony child pornography charges, although some states have started characterizing such behaviors as juvenile-law misdemeanors. It is hard for teens to escape cyberbullying because of the way they use technology in their everyday lives. Cyberbullying can have a range of different effects on teenagers including, lower school attendance and performance, increased stress and anxiety, feeling of isolation, fear and poor concentration, depression. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can lead to suicide. We’re used to worrying about the impractical ideals that photoshopped magazine models give to our kids, but what happens with the kid next door is photoshopped, too? Even more confusing, what about when your own profile doesn’t really represent the person that you feel like you are on the inside? Some youth are easily influenced so they may feel the need to change their physical appearance by comparing themselves to the next person they see in the media.
Peer acceptance is also a big thing for youth and many of them care about their image as much as a politician running for office. To many of them it can feel as serious. Add to the fact that youth today are getting actual polling data on how much people like them or their appearance via things like “likes”. It’s enough to turn anyone’s head. Who wouldn’t want to make herself look cooler if she can? So, youth can spend hours pruning their online identities, trying to project an idealized image. Teenage girls’ sort through hundreds of photos, agonizing over which ones to post online. Boys compete for attention by trying to out-gross one other, pushing the envelope as much as they can in the already disinhibited atmosphere online. When young people scroll through their feeds and see how great everyone seems, it only adds to their pressure. The amount of time on social media plays a large role in development of the brain. According to the Center for Media and Child Health, “Adolescents suffering from internet addiction may have lower grey matter as well as structural changes in the brain over time”. Poor cognitive function and addiction are just some of the deleterious results of overindulgence in cyberspace. The predominant exposure of social media and the Internet allows unprecedented youth access to social media and other apps and websites on the Internet. The documented structural changes to the brain while on the computer gives insight to the malleability of the brain when processing content. The long-term effects the internet has to our evolving society is something to ponder.
Social media is an alarming source for anxiety and loneliness. According to Psychology Today, “social media such as Facebook and Twitter are a significant contributor to the friendship networks of young people, so whether you perceive yourself to be a successful user of social media is likely to have an impact on feelings of loneliness, anxiety, paranoia, and mental health generally”. The emotional implications of social media give a clear example on society’s change in perception when it comes to friendship. Obtaining friendships through virtual means no matter how real or deep, is an artificial substitute to personal interaction. The number of “likes” and “friends” on various social media platforms devolves our natural proclivities of making connections into an egotistical popularity contest. Here lies the flaw in the connecting and communicating via social media. Social media has changed the meaning of friendship. Instead of the traditional virtues of mutual respect and affection, for many it means a tally mark or contributor to a person’s “success” on these various sites. The emptiness and lack of affection that lies in this new definition of self-worth can lead to an endless cycle of loneliness, anxiety, and the insatiable thirst search for connections.
The downside of this social media is becoming a big issue in our society because of lack of social skill. Because so much brain development takes place during the teen years, it is important that parents understand the impact that social media use can have on their kids. If no attempt is made to restrict the use, the frequency of these problems will only increase, and the ramifications will perhaps hinder our future progress and evolution. For this reason, it is important to establish guidelines for social media use. It’s also important for families to have regular discussions on how to use social media responsibly and safely. When families navigate the world of social media together, a teen’s online world becomes much more manageable.