By: Megan Rickenbach
Social media is constantly present in the lives of teenagers and young adults in the twenty-first century. From Twitter to Snapchat, there’s always a distraction at one’s fingertips. Many people don’t even realize that they could be talking to the person sitting across from them, or spending their time doing something more productive.
I’ve always been a huge supporter of opting for face-to-face social interaction, rather than over a screen. When I hangout with my friends, I typically ask them to put their phones away because I constantly feel as though what I’m saying is not resonating when they’re too caught up in all the posts on social media. Although at certain times I do go on my phone, I set my phone aside when I’m with other people.
While social media’s influence is controversial, there are both positive and negative effects. A huge negative effect of social media is cyberbullying. People use social media as a place to hide behind a screen, saying rude and hurtful things on someone’s profile that they would never say to someone’s face. All it takes is one person, confident due to the anonymity, to start a violent cycle of online bullying. Even if someone reports the comments, the chances are very low for the social media site to actually change how these users are exploiting their profiles, and the bully can simply create another account and continue. Another downfall of social media is the way many children are exposed to this world of online strangers at a very young age. Although these social media platforms have strict age restrictions, people put in fake birthdays and emails just to create an account.
However, there are positive aspects to social media as well. Social media promotes and encourages communication, and as a result, communication skills are increased as people learn and practice communicating with different types of people. This accessible source of communication allows people to easily reach out to friends or family, no matter how far away they live.
Overall, I believe that social media has influenced teenagers and adults as it has progressed, but the positive effects in my opinion outweigh the bad. Although, I think that social media is more beneficial than bad, I do believe that people need to stop using it as an excuse to ignore the world around them. People should use social media as they see fit but not abuse it. There are always ways of escaping the negative effects, as long as you speak up and ask for help if you become a target of the damage that this virtual world can create.