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Social media has an ever-growing reach especially among the youth of the world. In this technology driven world, social media is becoming more of a necessity rather than a privilege. Classrooms stay connected, knowledge shared among peers and a much more accessible connection between student and educator. Alight all these advancements and benefits of social media, there is a darker side to this necessity. Young impressionable people are given access to this unrestricted network that can lead them to the negative side of social media. As with most things, it is not the technology itself that is negative, it is in fact those who use negatively that are unable to realize that a text on a phone, a comment on a picture or an aggressive tweet could have real life effect on real life people. This brings me to my first point that is cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying occurs across various electronic devices such as the cellphone, the computer a tablet and it even the Internet in general, particularly social media sites. It can be much more damaging physical bullying as it can happen to anyone at any time of day, and it targets a person’s emotional and mental health. This can have long-term damage that can lead to self-harm or even suicide among the youth. Those who are cyber-bullied usually internalize the negativity and it can go completely unnoticed by anyone until it’s too late.
Another disadvantage of social media is the negative impact it has on the satisfaction of ones physical appearance. This is especially relevant for those who don’t fit in with the euro-centric beauty standards set by the media due to societal norms. The youth that use these social media sites are easily influenced hence it could cause a damaged self-confidence and self-esteem. Those who do not fit in with the ‘normal beauty standards’, such as darker skin, larger size or any feature that makes them individually unique tends to think of himself or herself as inferior and less beautiful or appealing. This is especially harmful as it can lead to them wanting to alter themselves to fit in and it can lead to harmful eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, bleaching their skin to fairer shades, unhealthy supplements or tablets to get clearer skin or thinner bodies and even permanently disfiguring themselves with waist trainers to attain an hour glass figure.
Besides that, misinformation has to be the biggest disadvantage of social media. Social media provides a platform where anyone can say anything, which is the fastest way false information can be spread. 49.1% of social media users have read false news before on these websites. It also encourages amateur medical advice and self- diagnosis of health problems, which can be dangerous and life threatening. This spread of false medical alternatives can largely be attributed to social media influencers- those who have larger followings on their social media- who promote products with the promise of better health, skin and beauty. The products promoted are often full of false promises and impressionable teens who buy them are then at risk of allergies, internal damage and even long-term harm to their health and bodies, especially with products that are consumed.
In conclusion, social media plays a pivotal role in this day and age however, there should be some degree of restriction and monitoring for the youth on social media, to avoid these negative consequences. Those who witness cyber-bullying should speak up, those who see misinformation should report it and society itself should change its views on beauty standards to provide long term improvement in regards to these disadvantages discussed.
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