Sophia is in 10th grade and this is her first year in Journalism. She works in catering and plays soccer. She hopes to visit Germany, where she was born.
Negative Impacts of Social Media
October 28, 2022
While there is no question social media plays an increasingly significant role in society, something people don’t tend to realize is how much it can influence us, for better or worse
This is especially true of younger generations. According to CNN.com, high school students spend an average of more than seven hours a day scrolling through social media. This amount of time can fluctuate, but nonetheless, social media consumes many students’ days. As a result, spending time online can be a blessing or a curse (and sometimes, both). We can learn new things, identify problems happening in the world, and even make new friends across the world. However, time on social media can also increase exposure to cyber-bullying, social isolation, and many other harmful elements.
Students, in particular, don’t typically realize how much the media impacts them. The media spreads things or ideas that can then become trends, whether they be sayings, words, or actions. A good example of this was the Tik Tok-inspired “devious licks” trend that took place in 2021 and encouraged students to vandalize schools and steal items from school bathrooms. The negative effects of that trend can still be seen in many schools today, including FCHS, which recently had a sink ripped off the wall in a boys’ bathroom.
One possible negative consequence of social media is that students’ social skills (knowing how to talk on the phone, communicate clearly through email, or speak in person) appear to have declined during the COVID-19 pandemic when everyone was isolated. A possible outcome of relying so much on social media, this decrease in social skills has made it harder for some students to communicate with other people, and each other. This can make it a challenge for students to express how they feel, and if they need help or not.
Social media can also be a major source of misinformation. Younger users may find it particularly difficult to differentiate between real and fake information. The bigger problem is when younger teenagers, even children, are exposed to explicit content online. While most social media sites offer SafeSearch, or settings to blur this explicit content, it’s still there, and often, all-too-easy to access.
Being distracted is another negative of being too focused on social media. When you’re on your phone and talking to someone at the same time, you never actually hear what the person is saying. This can include being on your phone during class. If you’re distracted, you aren’t really focusing, and thereby, effectively learning what is being taught. Addiction to social media can also disrupt your sleep, which can make it harder for you to stay attentive in class.
Researchers have discovered that depression and anxiety often link with the amount of time spent on social media, and that it can often increase those symptoms. Social media often romanticizes, or promotes, depression and anxiety, along with eating disorders, self-harm, and even suicide. Many platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter have so many users that it’s difficult to remove posts about these things before people can see them and spread them.
Finally, young girls can be especially negatively affected by social media, as apps like Tik Tok and Instagram openly promote the concept of an “ideal body type.” This can make teenage girls compare themselves to celebrities and others around them. It can lower self-esteem, make them feel bad about themselves, and even result in an increased chance of developing an eating disorder.
Despite all this, social media does have a positive side. It makes it easy to connect with friends and family, share pictures, and see representation. It can also be used as entertainment, and can expose us to current events that need more attention, introduce people to varied topics, and be a positive distraction.
These positives, however, can become outweighed the most time people spend on their phones. Many teens have become addicted to their phones as they constantly chase a never-ending stream of entertainment. Tik Tok is known for its short, 15-20 second videos, with an algorithm that seems to never end. With each video being a short entertainment segment, this can lead to shortened attention spans in teenagers, which can make it hard to stay focused on a single topic, and even affect how a student does in school.
The bottom line is that all this time spent on social media takes away from time that could be spent with family, friends, doing hobbies, or participating in other activities. It can lead to social isolation, as well as cause a decrease in one’s mental and physical health. Social media may have pros and cons, but the older it gets, the greater–and darker–the cons appear to be.