Downside of social media

During my adolescent years, I, along with most others in my age group, have been exposed to social media. Being a teenager in the 21st century, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Social media has certainly established its importance in the worlds of young people, and unfortunately its effects are not all beneficial.

As years have gone by, research has been conducted to create a better awareness of the negative effects that social networking sites can have on the social development of adolescents. The influence of social media can have detrimental effects on adolescents, including under-developed social skills.

Adolescents are more susceptible to the negative effects of social media because they tend to be the heaviest users of the Internet. According to a survey done in 2004-05 by the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services, 94 percent of teens go online daily, and 74 percent of them report to use more than one social media site per day. Because teens use social media sites much more than adults do, they are the most likely to suffer from Internet use.

According to the Child Mind Institute, social media has essentially eliminated the idea of face-to-face communication:

“There’s no question kids are missing out on very critical social skills. In a way, texting and online communicating…puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible.”

Face-to-face communication is a huge part of development during one’s adolescent years. A disconnect from the real world is a serious consequence of spending too much time on social media sites. The more time adolescents stay in the digital world, the more frequently they are becoming numb to what is going on in the real world.

Risks of excessive use of social media include, but are not limited to: depression, cyberbullying, lack of self-esteem, sexting, loss of privacy, sleep deprivation and more, according to the study done by the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services. Social media endorses these risks by giving teenagers a place to do and say things that they normally would not do or say in public to another person’s face.

There is no filter. The lack of restraint granted by the Internet gives people the opportunity to say anything they want, to whomever they want. Adolescents are often bombarded with unrealistic body ideals that are set forth by people they see on social media.

An adolescent’s time should be spent with friends and family, being creative and enjoying life instead of on social media. Adolescents need a creative outlet — social media sometimes takes on that role, but teens should find other ways of expressing themselves, such as focusing on their personal development and hobbies.

Adolescents need their creativity and social skills developed, not their texting skills.

Anastasia Cottone is a contributing writer for the Bona Venture. Her email is cottona16@bonaventure.edu