7 Ways Social Media Is Having a Negative Impact on Young People
In today’s digital world, it is hard to find a person who has a Smartphone but does not use any social media platform. Thanks to the latest smart devices and seamless mobile connectivity, we no longer need to wait to get home and log in to our computers to access our social media profiles. But, don’t you think this convenience has also trapped us in the digital world?
Social media was developed with the intention to help people broaden their network and interact with others beyond physical boundaries. Honestly speaking, social media has been quite successful in achieving the goal. However, all these privileges come at a price. Excessive use of social media, which is often categorized as social media addiction, is a serious issue that is affecting all the users. And while everyone is at the risk of bearing the brunt, the teens are vulnerable to much greater risk than anybody else.
- Body image and self-esteem:
In the world of Instagram posts and Facebook live, somehow the appearance of an individual on social media has become more important than his/her personality in real life. We all have noticed how important it has become to look perfect in the photos. If you’re slightly overweight or don’t have the perfect shape like a fashion model, you may get to hear it over and over again from the people whom you have added to their list of friends or followers.
Let’s imagine for a second that there are no insensitive people who comment on people’s body. However, watching people with perfect hair, spotless face and toned figure often set unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards for the young people. The kids, whose bodies are undergoing uncontrollable physical change, often find themselves to be imperfect in the world of cosmetically altered projection of beauty.
Teenagers, especially girls often feel insecure about their own beauty after being exposed to the world of social media where apparently everyone is a self-proclaimed model/celebrity. Too much of such insecurity not only shatters the self-esteem of the individual but also affects her mental health. Besides, the overtly sexualized representations of young adult females in the media can create a wrong image of an ideal woman for the teenage girls, who were children until recently.
Excessive use of social media can affect the sleeping patterns of users. Most of us know how addictive social media can be. And while everyone irrespective of the age group uses social media platforms, teenagers are the ones who are being affected the most. Ideally, a teenager needs 8-10 hours of sleep, which is reduced to 7-7.5 hours due to a number of reasons. There’s no surprise that social media is one of those reasons.
While the average duration of daily sleep among adolescents is slightly lower than what it is supposed to be, there are a significant number of teenagers who are suffering from sleep deprivation. And the consumption of social media content is making it even worse. Since most of these young users spend a significant amount of their bedtime browsing through social media platforms, the lack of sleep actually contributes to several health issues in most cases.
A lack of sleep often causes:
- Increased level of stress and anxiety
- Difficulty in learning and concentrating
- Unhealthy eating and weight gain
- Viral illnesses and acne
- Becoming irritable
As mentioned, the increased use of social media is one of the many issues that cause a lack of sleep in adolescent users. However, in most cases, that is the only reason. Besides, a lack of sleep causes lethargy, which may compel the students to avail professional essay typer as they lose the stamina to work on the projects by themselves.
- Sexual behavior:
While there are a lot of areas on the social media that can help the users learn better things, there is also a part of the social media where the users are exposed to sexually suggestive and explicit content on a regular basis. The adolescent users, who were children some time ago, may get affected by such content on social media and develop negative sexual behaviors.
As you may realize, continuous exposure to sexual content that not only portrays unrealistic but harmful sexual behavior and stereotypes can have a negative impact on the teenagers who have just started developing their sexual identities. There’s a reason why the pornographic content is marked “18+”.
Various studies have supported the fact that consuming sexual content that highlight unrealistic and harmful sexual actions from a young age can result in unreasonable expectations of sexual norms among the individuals. This may often lead to the development of risky sexual behavior and unhealthy sexual relationships.
Social media may have made it easier for users to stay connected to the world, but this has also infiltrated our privacy. Whether you realize this or not, once you put any information on social media, it can be easily re-posted and subsequently viewed by other people, even if your account is set to private.
Teenagers, who often lack the sense of right and wrong, end up uploading embarrassing or insensitive content on the social media more often than not. Even though they regret posting those updates on social media later in life, a significant number of people may have viewed them by then.
Since the recruiters now do a social media profile check of each of the applicants before contacting for a job interview, having a negative image on the social media can ruin the chances of getting that interview call. If a 10-year-old tweet can ruin a Hollywood director’s career, imagine where these naïve teenagers stand.
- Brain development:
Social media can play a crucial part in setting up the environment in which an individual grows. It means, if a person is using social media during the years when his/her brain is developing, it can affect how the brain processes the information, reacts to a particular situation and remembers the events.
Not just that, research reveals that young individuals who are suffering from internet addiction may experience structural changes in their brain, including lower grey matter over time. The study also reveals that teenagers, who have tendencies for other addictions, are more likely to develop social media addiction.
Moreover, when an individual is too much into social media consumption, it can disrupt all his/her work. For instance, if a teen turns on his/her computer to look for writing help, he/she may feel the urge to check his/her social media accounts, delaying the task, which was the objective of turning the computer on in the first place. Also, a peek on the mobile phone while doing homework can disrupt study.
- Mental health:
As pointed out earlier, excessive use of social media and the internet can give rise to numerous mental health problems. Research suggests that if an adolescent is spending more than a couple of hours on social media, he/she is more likely to experience issues like psychological distress.
Teenagers, especially girls are more vulnerable to peer pressure and other negative experience on the internet which can influence their development and open the door for problems like anxiety disorders and depression. There’s also the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) which is another mental issue that compels the user to check their accounts at a regular interval.
Social media is also a place where teenagers are susceptible to bullying. Bullying, as we all know, is one of the major issues that the young people are facing today. It not only destroys one’s self-confidence but also breaks the individual emotionally.
- Social skills:
Teenage years are the best time to develop your individual social skills – the skills to establish relationships with the other members in the society and maintain it throughout. Social media was created with the intention to complement those skills on the digital platform. However, in reality, social media alienates the individuals from society more than bridging the gap.
Since teenagers spend a majority of their time interacting over social media platforms, they start to take the real world for granted. In fact, in some cases, the individuals start to recognize the online world as the real one and grow distant from the real world over time. This is one of the major reasons why a lot of teenagers don’t know how to interact with the people in real life, as they never practice it.
Being socially alienated not only makes the young people feel awkward in social gatherings, but it also increases the risks of depression and suicide. As mentioned earlier, being on social media at all time increases the risks of developing several mental issues, as more and more teenagers fail to interact with the people in real life. It significantly contributes to their mental health problems.
It is true that in the digitized world, being on social media has become a necessity more than a luxury. In fact, the jobs in today’s digital era require people who are good at handling social media and other things on the internet. However, it’s a common knowledge that too much of anything can be bad for individuals, and social media is not an exception.
While the impact of social media affects everyone regardless of their age, sex and geographical location, the teens are more vulnerable to the negative aspects of the technology than anybody else. As you may realize, social media itself is not a bad influence. It is just a tool, and like any other tool, it is completely up to the users how they use or misuse it.
Since the adolescents are still in the process of developing their individual persona and form their own ideas about right and wrong, social media can be used to manipulate them by the people with wrong intentions. It is the duty of the parents and school teachers to monitor their behavior and activities on the internet, and guide them in the right direction, instead of barring them from using social media completely.