Downsides of social media

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Downsides of social media

Keeli Richards, Feature Editor

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Downsides of social media

One of the biggest social forces of this generation is social media. Between Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Vine; the outlets seem to be endless. Dramatic increases in social media sites result in cyberspace being the popular place kids grow up in and communicate through. Social networking and technology in general can play a positive part in life, but with the amount of time students’ lives revolve around them, it may be doing more harm than good.

Ann Berger, psychology teacher, believes social media is “devastating to mental health and the number one reason why we feel stress and anxiety and have self-esteem issues. It is the problem.” When students view peers’ posts and pictures they can start to “comparison shop” and conclude that other people live happier, more successful lives. Constantly comparing can result in feelings of jealousness, lack of self-worth, or the need to appear perfect.

Another problem social media presents is the lack of face-to-face communication which lessens people’s ability to interact with one another. It isn’t uncommon to walk into a room full of teens and see them all sitting quietly on their phones. Scrolling through Instagram posts or liking tweets isn’t the same as talking to one another and can actually be a catalyst for loneliness. Social media can even affect family dynamics and reduce the closeness between siblings and parents.

“When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears.” -Zadie Smith

Overuse of social media sites can lead to bad time management skills and produce a feeling of wasted time, which is very relevant for busy high school students.  People miss out on many productive and fun activities, sometimes without even realizing it. Berger stated, “Social media rewires the brain in a negative way.” An example of this would be the trend of teens’ attention spans becoming smaller and smaller.

A big disadvantage of social media use is that it lacks strong emotional connections. “Lol” and “hahaha” get used so much that they are slowly losing the meaning of actual laughter and smiles. It’s also easier to say hurtful things when they appear just as words on a screen, not words coming from the face of the person himself. Shannon Parisot, 2016 PV graduate, shares, “A negative of social media would be the power of cyber-bullying, harassment, and plain crudeness. Also, the addictiveness is something many of us do not realize. Moderation, caution, and security are needed when accessing this new online world.”

Social media has too big of an influence on lives to ignore looking at the damage it can bring. Make it a challenge not to be attached to phones and feel the difference it can make in just one school day. Brian Primack, director of Pitt’s Center of Research on media, technology, and health, says, “Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use.” Though finding the balance may be difficult, it is highly important.