Almost every single individual fixed into society in the 21st century is familiar with the applications Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, and various other programs used for the purpose of sharing content and connecting with others online in a social manner. According to statistics platform Statista, “In 2017, 81 percent of U.S. Americans had a social media profile.” Keeping this in mind, it can almost be considered strange to recognize a child older than the age of twelve without devices such as phones, tablets, or computers in their possession that do not contain at least one of these networks. Children are at a constant risk of being exposed to social media by the inevitably changing society of their time. The question regarding this fairly recent and potentially natural process of participating in social media is, how does it impact the lives of those who partake in it? The true response to this is that social media is associated with more harmful effects as opposed to beneficial ones, and its use should be monitored and limited.
Specifically, the true purpose of social applications is to allow people to connect with each other and share ideas on a transcontinental basis. Certain applications often provide content restrictions specific to their app idea, but every social media app has the same aforementioned goal. Despite the exciting appeal, sharing personal information with a site that almost anyone can access is most definitely not in a user’s best interest. For example, privacy is an important lesson to learn when an individual contemplates joining a social networking application. Many apps have the option of turning an account “private.” In other words, a user possesses the ability to control who views his or her information by accepting and declining follow requests. This can protect an individual’s personal experiences so that only his or her close friends or family can view the content that is posted and is an excellent supplement to social apps. However, there is not yet any restrictions regarding who is allowed to create an account on the majority of applications. Particularly, all people no matter their culture, religion, ethnicity, age, and even criminal background have full access to the most popularly used content sharing sites. It would not be impossible for a person with the intentions to hurt, get close to, or wield their way into another person’s life to pretend to be another identity online instead of their own. If an individual were to conjure an account with an impure objective and use it as a weapon to get closer to a real user, it could lead to much harm and is also known as “catfishing.” Technology definition website, Techopedia, explains the word catfish as “a term for a situation where a user is impersonating someone else online and/or in some digital interactions.” Not only is this act morally wrong, but also breeds “many of the legal and social complications of identity theft, false identities, and deceptive digital media practices” (Techopedia). Unfortunately, not all users are conscious enough of the effects of allowing a user they don’t know, or that they think they know into their social media world. A person’s social media wall often provides clues or straightly identifies the location of which the person lives, their age, along with their values and routines. Clearly, this is all data that if it is manipulated for the wrong reasons, can easily result in dangerous and even frightening situations like stalking and robberies.
In addition, another point to consider about social media is the content a user is physically posting on his or her account. It is true the choice of posting and deleting a photo is available to all. Despite this option, a picture or video uploaded to a social media app is released to the internet world forever. Consequently, a higher power, such as a college or workplace that searches a background check on their person of interest may uncover private details through social media. In some instances, this can prevent a person from getting into that college or receiving that job that they may have worked hard for. Getting rejected from any type of category in life because of one or two pictures online can really put a strain on person’s success, even though the decision they made to upload the photo may have taken only a few seconds. Users so young specifically might not be aware of the effect one little picture could have on their future.
Similarly, there is also some relation to the way that users feel after using social applications. Many individuals who participate in these apps shockingly become addicted. They are so infatuated with the application that they make it a habit to grab their phone, unlock it, and venture through all their social media apps immediately. Always looking at the pictures of supermodels, celebrities, athletes, and even a party an individual was not invited to, but became aware of after a picture of the event was posted can actually affect the mental health of a person. Constantly being exposed to these types of things can cause depression and lowers self-esteem. It is common for people to analyze the unrealistic body imaging and the materialistic posts of others. Social media creates a false sense of reality and definitely transfers over into the individual’s everyday life and mood.
Similarly, routinely checking these networks can consume a significant amount of a person’s time. According to Lauren Davidson, property editor of The Telegraph, “The average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day.” Evidently, the amount of time social media users spend keeping up with their apps every single day is astonishing. More importantly, if a section of an individual’s day is spent on these applications, wouldn’t they desire benefits instead of receiving negative effects as a result of their daily usage? Something else that comes along with the world of social media is cyber bullying. With these social apps in the reach of anyone, it becomes quite easy to judge and attack another person online by using a fake identity, or even just making it a little more simple to “hide behind a screen” and express thoughts that would be inappropriate and uncomfortable had they been shared in a “face to face" encounter. Bullying becomes an almost effortless task which can seriously impact the life of the victim.
Overall, social media is favored by millions and the population of participants grows stronger each day with new updates and new applications always under development. Despite its obsessive nature and allure to connect with peers, the risks and consequences of this social activity undoubtedly override the minimal benefits. Most people enjoy them. Many people attain an addiction to them. Some people get physically harmed as a consequence of them. However, the same concepts can correspond with other examples such as cigarettes and junk food. Our world had been applying these products for years before their dreadful truths reached the surface. Smoking cigarettes can cause lung cancer. Eating a poor diet can increase cholesterol and take years off of our lives. Social media is a fairly recent addition to society. We are just beginning to learn its conclusion. Wouldn’t it be better to start listening before it’s too late?