The Digital Epidemic: The Negative Effects of Digital Media on Teens

May 26, 2017
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Is the digital age destroying and demoralizing the youth of mankind? The answer is yes; no doubt about it. While social media does have some pros, such as raising awareness on global concerns, there are some cons of digital media. Social media platforms all over the world have essentially been promoting eating disorders and anxiety. Not only do these newfound ways of socializing have opened up a whole new level of cyber stalking, but they have also fueled the severity of drama amongst teens.

In recent years, social media has caused high levels of social anxiety amongst teenagers. According to the paper, “Teen, Technology and Friendship” by Amanda Lambert, Lambert informs the readers that, “40% of teen social media users report feeling pressure to post only content that makes them look good to others” (Lambert). Statistics from the study reinforces the idea of how social networking forces teens to live the “fake” and “popular” life. One could argue that regardless, the idea of being “popular” has been around longer before the “digital age”. While it does hold true to some extent, movies focused on the theme of popularity had started coming out in the 80s and 90s (i.e Never Been Kissed, The Breakfast Club, etc...); however, it seems as though social media has added fuel to the fire. In the report, “Negative Influences of Media on the Society” by eating disorder specialist Matthew Lissak, Lissak explains, “A significant number of youth nowadays are suffering from eating disorders attributable to unhealthy lifestyles that are emerging...often showcase this lifestyle as fun activities despite their negative effect on health. Media hypes the acceptability of vices” (Lissak). All over the internet, you see that the popular kids in school typically have perfect bodies, or the most trendy clothes. To avoid from being at the bottom of the pyramid, many other teens try to imitate them (the popular kids) and try to be a part of their clique. Consequently, we begin seeing teenagers of the millennial age begin to worry about outward appearance, rather than being himself/herself and having a strong sense of character.

The article “6 Takeaways about Teen Friendships in the Digital Age” by Monica Anderson, the author states, “Seventy-seven of all teens admit that they don’t meet their online friends in real life” (Page 2 Anderson). The author is implying that while social media does connect with more people friends, those “friends” aren’t real and could potentially be a predator. When teens put themselves online, they are enabling predators easy solicitation to their life. As stated in the last paragraph, a considerable percentage of teens try to be popular, resulting in them posting some risqué pictures, bragging about their life story (personal info), etc…. While they have caught the attention of their peers, they also get a little more of what they originally bargained for; by attracting internet stalkers. The posting of racy photos and sharing of personal information, teens are feeding the “internet sharks” ammo that they can use to find out every little detail about one’s life. Some argue that teens can just make their account private or just don’t share personal information. While this claim may be true, according to a study done by Cox, 47% of teens make their account public. Even if they keep their account private, teens still “friend” dozens of people they don’t know in order to appear “popular”. The University of British Columbia Vancouver did a study in which 102 fake accounts were created. The fake accounts friended about 8,000 accounts, with about 3,000 friending back. Ultimately, social networking platforms threaten the safety of teens in their own homes.

On a final point, social platforms have fanned drama amongst teens and perpetuates teen suicide. In the literary work, “6 Takeaways about Teen Friendships in the Digital Age” by Monica Anderson, she states, “68% of teen social media users (52% of all teens) have experienced drama among their friends on social media”. While many say that there is drama everywhere, whether on the web or not, the takeaway is how drama over social media makes things more public. The power of the internet essentially makes it easier for people to tear each other down, as many people use these platforms. Which in turn, causes the drama to spread quicker, as people are these on sites 24/7. As a result, you begin getting cases of cyberbullying. Alarming as it might seems, according to recent studies done by ABC News, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, etc… Seventy-eight percent of suicide victims were bullied on the internet. About 20% of cyberbully victims consider taking their own lives and a fourth attempt. This causes an emotional burden pressed upon loved ones of the victims, as they are confused on how incidents like this can still occur when it could be easily prevented. Some could say that digital media makes it for bully victims to reach out. While that these statements are true, on the contrary, according to the article by Clive Byrne, Many Bully Victims Afraid to Reach Out for Help, “Colleagues also tell me that many children are suffering in silence, afraid to reach out to a friend, parent, or teacher in case their phone is confiscated” (Byrne). The excerpt informs that while media establishes better connections to others, teens are worried more about consequences from their than from their peers. All in all, the effects of digital media have caused drama amongst teenagers to become worse.

Without doubt, social media has changed the generation of millennials for the worse. Corruption is running ever rampant and has been tearing apart the fabric of our society. From pressuring kids to be popular, to cyber stalking, to inciting drama between teens. For once, this is a first world problem that is an actual problem. Therefore, it is imperative that something be done about the ongoing situation regarding social media.

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