Is Social Media Harming Young People?

Social media is a huge part of my life. On my iPhone the Twitter app currently has 5 accounts set up and ready to go. This is because I am working 4 jobs that all require the use of social media. As well as for work, I use social media for fun, procrastination and as a time killer. How sad.

When I started commuting to Brighton for a job that I had last year, I realised how much time I spent staring at a screen. I became fixated by what everyone else was doing. In some ways I feel that social media has allowed me and many other young people to become more tuned in to world events and access online communities that can be incredibly supportive. Yet it still doesn’t sit well with me – this social media business. With the rise of stars that can make a damn good living off likes, views and shares, it seems we are entering an unknown and potentially dangerous territory.

Many of us are already fighting the battle of ignoring what other people think. The internet unfortunately adds a whole new level to this social anxiety. I can admit that I feel nervous when I upload an instagram photo – I have even gone to the extreme of deleting images because they didn’t get many likes or comments. Now that my friends, is absolutely ridiculous. The other problem that comes with social networking sites is the constant comparison. Comparing yourself with your friends and celebrities who appear to be having the time of their life. We have got to remind ourselves that social media isn’t real life. This is the message that Australian social media star Essena O’Neill has been trying to hammer into her followers. Although controversial and perhaps a little hysterical, she does make a few good points.

 

The more obvious form of harm that social media and the internet creates and even encourages is cyber bullying.

Have a read of these cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:

  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.
  • Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
  • Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.  click here for source & more info

There needs to be the right protection and regulations in place to protect young people who are very vulnerable. For younger generations, their youthful mistakes are no longer hidden in their memories alone, they are plastered all over the internet. Once you click ‘post’ there is no going back – even if you delete it. Parents should get educated on social media platforms and make sure that their children understand the implications of posting and commenting online. This also allows for more support for those who do get cyber bullied. I would recommend Ditch The Label as a place to start,  an anti-bullying charity that provides loads of resources.

We know that the internet is wonderful. It impacts almost everything in our modern society and it is an amazing tool. But we all need to be careful, as put by The Guardian, “social media online may be our destiny but do unplug once in a while“.

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