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The rise of social media usage has caused a great impact on the younger generations. Popular social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and many more. It is very rare to come across someone from the younger generation who does not have an account on a social media platform. It is something that people use for many reasons such as keeping in touch with what their friends and relatives are doing, staying up to date with the latest news and current events, to kill time, to search for amusing and hilarious content, general network with other people, a lot of people they know are using it, to post pictures or videos with other users, to share their views, online shopping and to meet new people. In this generation where technology is much more developed and innovative than before, there is easier access to the internet and hence social media has become more accessible to everyone. There are many pros and cons when it comes to using social media and these pros and cons come in many forms.
Firstly, I’ll talk about the pros. The good thing about how social media can affect a teen’s brain and their overall mental health and development is that the anonymous aspect of the online experience does not only give negative impact but a positive one as well. Being unknown makes things simple when looking for assistance for social problems online where there is no stigma connected and everyone is allowed to be themselves. Another positive point would be that the teens are easily influenced by the internet, influenced by the good things for example, leading a healthy lifestyle or achieving academic success. Lastly, the internet can provide a sense of relief and remove the sense of detachment for individuals suffering from mental illness as they tend to avoid real life conversations with people. However, there are cons to using social media as well. Firstly, creating posts and receiving positive feedback from others could become an addiction, hence causing many children to spend more and more time on the internet when they could be outside playing with their friends in real life. This leads to sleep deprivation, and could lead to further mental issues such as anxiety and increased irritability.
Technically everyone needs to have a sufficient amount of sleep to gain energy for the next day, and this habit should start from a young age. Next, research has found that disconnections to social media could lead to users showing a symptom that resembles a drug withdrawal. This means that in a way social media is already a drug to them. In addition, posting and recording has become a sense of relaxation when people start doing something and when that is taken away from them, it disrupts the flow and they could get cut off from the experience of taking in their moments as they share them. Lastly, social media can have a negative impact on the youth’s perception of positive body image as well as affect their self esteem. With the presence of more and more beauty influencers, youths are exposed to unrealistic beauty standards. They feel that they have to look a certain way in order to conform to the society’s standards and fit in. This could also possibly affect the physical and mental health of these youths.
What causes addiction to social media? There has been a research conducted and the results were that the use of social media can cause huge differences to the human brain in identical ways as to how drug addiction can. A group of psychologists has discovered that getting likes on a post releases dopamine in the brain. It creates the feeling of pleasure, similar to when people enjoy their favourite desserts. When they start to use social media at a young age, it will become an unhealthy habit and it will get difficult for them to stay away from it. There are advantages and disadvantages when using the internet. Let’s talk about the advantages first. There are many advantages to using the internet. Firstly, people can easily gain more knowledge by using the internet. They can get access to answers to everything in a flash due to the vast amount of information made readily available on the internet. The internet is where people share their knowledge and skills with each other.
Next, communication smoothens and gives access to real life understanding and this helps those fighting depression and other mental issues. Another advantage is that physical barriers and other barriers collapses as a person does not need to be physically present to make friends with another person at the other side of the world. Next, relationships are strengthened. People can easily communicate and keep in touch with their families and close friends no matter how far away they are from each other. Another advantage will be that anybody’s self esteem can be easily boosted. Getting likes and positive feedback definitely brings the morale of somebody up. Next, it can be a tool for benchmarking. Lastly, it can fight depression. Teens who are feeling suicidal could blog and that can calm the teens and they will not have those thoughts anymore. The disadvantages of using the internet could be as many as the advantages, sometimes even more.
Firstly, people lose real life interaction. Many people are more used to communicating virtually and when it comes to speaking in real life communication they lack the skills to hold a proper conversation. Teens feel that it is easier to communicate on social media platforms because they lack the communication skills. Next, teens are missing out on developing their social skills. While they are busy spending time on social media, they could have been outside meeting new people and improve their skills in communication. Another disadvantage will be that the feeling of intimidation while communicating is no longer present. Whenever people use social media to communicate, they do not feel what they feel in real life. They can prepare what to say in order not to hurt the other person’s feelings. Another concern would be the issue of cyberbullying. The internet allows people to post hurtful and mean comments to another, while staying anonymous. As much as there are many ways to use the internet in a positive manner, this would be an example of how people can sometimes misuse the anonymity and freedom of speech the internet has given them. This will lead to the victims of cyberbullying getting mental health issues and other problems. Lastly, the parents have no clue what their children are looking up for on the internet. They easily give them internet access without supervising them and the children might end up exploring too deep into the adult world and learn unpleasant things.
Recently, my group and I conducted a focus group with a group of people to get more information for our research. The participants were asked questions relating to this topic. Summing up on what they have said, most of the participants had access to the internet at a young age, leading them to the discovery of social media platforms. Many of them started with friendster and as that era ended, they moved on to facebook and twitter. They were asked for their opinions of young generation getting access to the internet and whether it is a positive or negative thing. Most of them responded that the times are changing and definitely there are good and bad aspects to millenials getting exposure to the internet and social media. Many of them are hooked on the features of the social media and that catches most of their attention. In addition, when they use social media, they seek a sense of escape from their stressful lives and search for entertaining videos to keep them occupied. They do not only use internet on their laptops and phones, but they do their work and edits on them as well. They believe that the lack of security and restriction in some sites are exposing too much mature content to younger viewers and believe that this could cause the children to take up some undesirable habits.
Most of them are not too comfortable with sharing their personal information online. In some cases, depression can be triggered when a person uses social media. There are cases whereby a user suffers from depression after getting hateful comments from anonymous people on their account or posts. A recent study has shown a connection between screen-mediated communications and depression. One of the strong theories is that people often compare to others that they see on social media. Many people do not see the challenges faced by a person as they always put up a strong front, this will end up making other people see them as an excellent person with no flaws. This may let other people feel incompetent with regards to their lives or self-esteem. Even somebody who has a similar lifestyle as them would feel disheartened as they might not be on the same level as another person. This would result in these people never feeling satisfied with their lives and always wanting more in order to attain the lifestyle that is deemed perfect. Another pros and cons of this issue are the effects on education on the internet. The first advantage will be that those who do not have access to libraries or professionals can be knowledgeable as those with access to any education resources. Students are able to get access to articles and journals from their schools e-databases all within the comfort of their home and not having to travel out to the library or their school. The next advantage is that those students who could not make it for their classes could find many other alternatives to study with lesser costs incurred. Not only does the internet provide a student with most of the knowledge they need, it can also serve as a platform where they can communicate with their teachers or professors without being physically present. Lastly, teachers can upload the lecture notes for students to recap and refer to if they need it. In a way, by uploading all the studying materials online, it not only provides easier access for students but also helps in saving the environment by reducing the need for printed materials.
The first disadvantage of education on the internet is that many students are sleep deprived due to social media. With more attention being put towards social media usage, they would prioritise it more than their studies and fail to manage their time wisely. They would stay awake all night without their parents being aware of it. Being sleep deprived can cause them to have poor performance in class and grades. The next disadvantage is that not all sources from the internet are credible. The internet has access to many things this also means that they can lead people to false information It is difficult to say sometimes whether a source is credible or not. Lastly, with so many youths depending on the internet as their source of information, this could lead to students misusing it to find the answers to their homework. As the answers are automatically churned out the moment they type in the question, this disrupts the student’s learning process and they would not be able to gain the proper knowledge.
In conclusion, there are good and bad in using social media. However, the young generation will need to know the difference between them as they are prone to be influenced easily. There is nothing wrong with using social media but as long as they spread more of the positive side of social media and less of the negative, it will be better for them. Parents should be supervising their young children when they allow them to play with their phones or computers and ensure that they are not doing anything that could influence them to do bad things. There is also a need to educate these youths on the proper way to use the internet so as to prevent them from misusing it.
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