Social Media is a growing component to our everyday society. Everywhere you look, social media is being used, especially on phones, from at the store, to in restaurants, to even at work. From all of this, one thing is completely clear regarding social media: it is a major distraction and people are obsessed with it to the point that it is creating an increasingly negative impact on society. In a perfect world, social media would work to advance people and help them collaborate with each other to solve problems and create change. When social media starts to create problems such as social isolation, threats to individuals (especially kids), and narcissism, it is taking society in a backwards direction, opposite of what it should be doing.
Social Media is constantly exploding with new features, and buzzing with the latest drama and news. Certain features of social media such as its availability on cell phones, are causing an increase in narcissism among its users, and leading to feelings of self-love, self-absorption, and to the feeling of the need to belong. This leads to a stronger attachment to social media and a feeling of need to constantly be on it, for self satisfaction. For instance, “28 percent of iPhone users check their social media channels before getting out of bed in the morning, and teenagers aged 15 to 19 spend at least three hours a day looking at their social channels.” (Social Media Today, 2014). Not only does this show addiction, but also how obsessed people are with these networks, to some people, it is all they care about, constantly being worried about what to post, how many people will see it, and how many likes that they will get.
Social Isolation is also another grand factor caused by using Social Media. Several studies have shown that social media leads to social isolation, and creates a major distraction. Think about how much time people spend on these sites daily. For the average person, this can add up to be hours a day. Spending all this time on a device instead of interacting with people face to face, is what ultimately leads to somebody isolating themselves. A study showed that “Internet users are 38% less likely to rely exclusively on their spouses/partners as discussion confidants. Those who use instant messaging are even less likely, 36% less likely than other internet users, or 59% less likely than non-internet users to rely exclusively on their spouses/partners for important matters” (Pew, 2009). With that also in mind, social isolation can also result in actions such as suicide. For example, looking at deaths, Scelfo noted that “the suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds has increased modestly but steadily in recent years, from 9.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007 to 11.1 in 2013. Also rising: Use of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. DeWitt compared herself unfavorably to the social media selfies that showed other students “having more fun, making more friends and going to better parties,” Scelfo writes. This shows just how much of a negative affect that it creates, and how it isn’t helping how kids and users in general are comparing themselves to other people, unquestionably resulting in a lower self-esteem and bad feelings about oneself. Even though it has been claimed that social media help kids socialize among many people, it is still over the computer, and won’t help develop their communication skills face-to-face, and it doesn’t prepare them for jobs where collaboration and communication are crucial.
Also, while spending all this time looking at profiles and current news, people are also constantly being exposed to negativity, whether it be a comment on a post, or an instance as damaging as cyber-bulling. In fact, Bach stated “Cyber-bullying is a great example of how social media communication differs from face-to-face,” Batcho, who has been a licensed psychologist in New York state for over 30 years, stated. “Studies suggest that it takes place in a more extreme way over social media because the authors feel no responsibility.” (Batcho, 2014) this shows just how easy it is to spread negativity, as people hide behind it, because since they are not directly facing someone, they don’t really understand how they are making the person on the other side feel.
In addition, Social Media is becoming a significant danger to young kids. A study showed that “…more than half of children use social media by the age of 10: Facebook is most popular site that youngsters join” (Daily mail reporter, 2014). Since the websites have no way to (supervise) who uses their programs, young kids are able to access it and use it, even without parental consent. For example, Gross stated, “Facebook and MySpace require users to be at least 13. But they have no practical way to verify ages, and many young users pretend to be older when signing up” (Gross, 2009). There is no barrier keeping them (kids) from putting themselves in danger. Social Media hurts the community by creating: identity theft, stalkers, and hackers. For instance, a study stated that “43 per cent [of kids] had messaged strangers, starting from an average age of 12” (Daily mail reporter, 2014). Not to mention that employers looking to hire somebody will look at social media accounts. Social Media websites have no set way to exactly restrict its users and what they share online. For example, almost every program such as Facebook or Instagram, allow users to share any kind of information, and other content.
Also, the addiction to Social Media is causing major distractions, especially in school. As, “18 percent of social media users say they can’t go more than a few hours without checking out what’s happening on social” (Social Media Today, 2014). In addition, a survey conducted by the Kaiser family foundation recorded that, “47 percent of the heaviest users of the internet and other media were receiving mostly C grades and lower” (Kaiser family foundation, 2010). During class, especially, kids and teens are constantly feeling the urge to pull out their phones and connect to their social media, creating a major disruption to them and the people around them.
So, think of every impact that social media is causing on society and the negative aspects of its existence, as it is constantly jeopardizing safety of any users. It is crazy to think about all the little problems that it is creating, all adding up to a big one. When you hear of a suicide, remember that social media had the highest probability of creating it. When you see somebody hiding behind a computer, completely isolated, think about where Social Media is leading society. With the age of millennials, they shouldn’t simply stop advancing technology, but take precautions and consider how certain things can be avoided, and think about steps that could be taken to avoid negativity and possible problems. Remember that even though social media is effective for some stances with businesses and communicating to a wide array of people, that the majority, well over half, of its users are teenagers and kids. Towards addressing the issue, for example, the parents of average social media users could restrain their kids from social media, and if they allow their child to have an account, to constantly be monitoring what their child is doing. In turn, think about how the world is buzzing with this disaster right in front of all of us, but how it is being ignored, even though the solutions are so simple.