The Negative Effect of Social Media on Youth
Social media has become a critical and inseparable part of the contemporary society due to the spread of computers and the Internet. In their everyday lives, modern people heavily rely on different social networks that considerably improve their communication, business, entertainment and other domains of life. Apparently, social networks offer diverse ways of establishing and sustaining remote communication with different people, attracting clients and business partners, etc. However, due to the fact that youth around the world more and more engage in social networks, the opinions of the scholars regarding their effect on teenagers’ psyche differ. In particular, there are many scientists who hold a view that social networks are beneficial for youth because they allow finding new friends and communicating, assist with reading and writing, develop awareness about different topical issues, etc. However, a close investigation of this subject demonstrates that the major effect of social media on youth is negative. The reason for this is that the natural psychic underdevelopment of the young users of social networks exposes them to diverse threats. Thus, youth that actively engages in social network have to be aware of their harmful effects, such as formation of a distorted body image, tolerance to violence, risky sexual behaviors and others. Therefore, every teenager should learn strategies for avoiding these basic threats to his or her psyche and body and share time spent in social networks with active sports and socialization in real life.
The Harm of Social Networks to Youth
The reason for the major harmful effect of social networks on youth is the fact that teenagers have underdeveloped and non-stable psychic, which is why they practice antisocial behavior in the virtual space. Thus, in case no one controls a network activity of a teenager, he or she is more likely to practice risky virtual behavior (Simon, 2014). For example, they gradually develop addiction manifested in the fact that teenagers spend more than 7-12 hours on media a day logging on to Facebook over 10 times daily (Simon, 2017). Consequently, teenagers spend too much time surfing the web and communicating in and reading materials in social networks. At the same time, they are more susceptible in contrast to adults to diverse immoral content and other threats that social networks often offer. Thus, experts state that this combination of the lack of emotional and psychological maturity and extreme usage of the social media is especially harmful for teenagers (Simon, 2014). Providing great opportunities, social networks serve as artificial stressors that endanger young individuals who do not have the awareness of the most typical threats met in such resources.
The number of risks associated with the use of social media in youth is diverse and ranges from overload of information to harm to individuality and even a danger of becoming the subject of bullying or sexual abuse. Among the recognized threats, experts indicate distorted body image, developed tolerance to the scenes of violence, risky social behavior, harm from the commercialization of the web, obesity and poor academic success (Chakravarty, 2017). For example, youth may be misled by the photographic images of stars corrected with the software such as Photoshop, and they may try to achieve unrealistic body standards (Chakravarty, 2017). Likewise, an increase in the time spent in social networks means a decrease in the time spent outdoors on live communication and physical activities, which may potentially lead to obesity.
The fact that the psyche of a teenager is not mature enough to oppose the stress caused by overuse of social networks leads to psychological issues, such as addiction. The most typical negative effect of addiction to social networks on teenagers include “feeling overwhelmed, curious, lonely, bored, stressed, depressed or even anxious about something” that is cured only by visiting a social network (Raja, 2017). Furthermore, continuous use of social media by teenagers may lead to social isolation, frustration, disconnect between them and their relatives and friends that may potentially cause depression (Raja, 2017). Therefore, the web is not a safe place for teenagers.
Positive Effect of Social Networks
Although many people criticize social networks for posing diverse risks to their teenage users, others believe that social networks influence youth positively. In particular, people supporting this view claim that social media help to develop awareness about different problems and social and motor skills, as well as improve reading and writing skills and serve as inspiration (Chakravarty, 2017). For instance, posts on Facebook assist in developing awareness about social and political life of a country and abroad, which is why teenagers reading such content are not disconnected from the society. Other benefits of the social networks to youth include the opportunity to establish social relationship when having limited time, to get additional education and even to find a job. For example, such networks as Facebook and LinkedIn may provide contacts of companies that may assist university graduates with finding a workplace (Mensah, 2016). In addition, experts state that social media stimulates creativity in teenagers and provides them with opportunities to learn different skills, become more confident and independent or even is “used as a voice of reason in the society” (Austin, 2016). Nevertheless, the indicated benefits to youth are possible only if teenagers protect themselves from the major threats of social networks.
The Need for the Development of Teenager Awareness of the Danger of Social Networks
The modern teenagers can be safe when using the Internet after they develop awareness of the dangers of social networks and avoid risky virtual behaviors. Therefore, no teenager is safe unless he or she is able to detect potentially dangerous sexual behavior online or tolerates violence. For example, recent studies revealed that youth using social networking sites “may be engaging in risk related to sexually transmitted infections” (Black, Schmiege, & Bull, 2013, p. 313). One of the major reasons associated with this risk is the inappropriate perception of peer behavior regarding the “safety” of online behaviors (Black et al., 2013). Other investigations found a connection between the increased cases of homicide among youth and an increase in social media use. In particular, the study by Patton et al. (2014) demonstrates that although face-to-face verbal and physical aggression is more common to youth than online attacks, the latter tend to provoke the physical violence anyway. What is more, the virtual space becomes a setting of new forms of aggression, such as cyber-bullying and victimization. For instance, in 2010, among the assessed sample of 4441 teenagers, 20% of youth reported experiencing cyber-bullying and 20% reported bullying by others through social networks (Patton et al., 2014). Thus, the stressors associated with the use of social networks are grave and may have drastically negative consequences, such as physical violence or even suicide. Consequently, there is a need for youth to raise awareness of potentially dangerous or harmful effect of social networks and utilize diverse protection strategies.
The analysis of the effect of social networks on the modern youth demonstrated that although some people describe it as positive, there are great risks to consider. In particular, social networks are dangerous to youth mainly due to the extreme time teenagers spend on them and immature psyche that is non-protected against diverse artificial stressors of the web. At the same time, the opponents of this argument state that social networks stimulate development of diverse skills, such as communication, confidence, reading and others that allow characterizing social media as safe and beneficial. Nevertheless, the studies of the scholars demonstrate that teenagers who constantly use social networks are endangered by potentially risky sexual behavior. Likewise, youth often either become a subject of online victimization or cyber-bullying or practice such deviant behavior, harming others. Consequently, there is a need for the young people to raise awareness of the critical risks of social network use and the ways of increasing individual protection against and resistance to these stressors.
Austin, K. (2016). Positive effects of social media. Retrieved from http://www.teenshield.com/blog/2016/06/28/positive-effects-of-social-media/
Black, S. R., Schmiege, S., & Bull, S. (2013). Actual versus perceived peer sexual risk behavior in online youth social networks. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 3(3), 312-319.
Chakravarty, C. (2017). Positive and negative influences of media on teenagers. Retrieved from http://www.momjunction.com/articles/positive-and-negative-influences-of-media-on-teenagers_00107975/#gref
Mensah, M. (2016). Positive effects of social media on the youth. Retrieved from https://www.modernghana.com/news/727123/positive-effects-of-social-media-on-the-youth.html
Patton, D. U., Hong, J. S., Ranney, M., Patel, S., Kelley, C., Eschmann, R., & Washington, T. (2014). Social media as a vector for youth violence: A review of the literature. Computers in Human Behavior, 35, 548-553.
Raja, D. (2017). Teenage social media addiction and its effects. Retrieved from http://www.momjunction.com/articles/teenage-addiction-to-social-media_00353048/?ref=content%2F
Simon, E. W. (2014). Is social media good or bad for young people? Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2014/06/social-media-youth/