Impact of Social Media

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Using social media is one of the most common practices of today’s younger generation. There has been a virtual explosion in social sites like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +, Tumblr, Instagram, gaming sites, and blogs that offer youth an unending source of entertainment and communication.

The growing popularity of social media is reflected in these statistics from 2015:

  • Average time spent on social networks per day: 1.72 hours
  • The average number of hours a teenager spends online per week: 27

Although social media benefits, it also harms. However, most young people engage with social media without stopping to think what the effects are on their lives.

Positives:

  • Social networking provides academic research to everyone with online access, allowing students and teachers alike access to previously unavailable resources.
  • Online networks give social movements a quick and cheap method of disseminating information and mobilizing young people for social causes.
  • Social media allow young people to communicate and stay in touch with friends they don’t see regularly. Teens often meet and make new friends online.
  • Great for young people trying to find work as thousands of jobs and new avenues of income have been created and advertised through social media.

 Negatives:

  • Enables plagiarism; in other words, cheating on school assignments.
  • While grades did improve for light users, grades of students who are heavy users of social media tend to suffer. One study shows that users have an average GPA of 3.06 while non-users have an average GPA of 3.82.
  • People, especially the young, are often too open and public with personal information, unaware that this can be used by third parties, like advertisers.
  • Cyber-bullying by sending intimidating or threatening messages online, causing emotional trauma, sometimes even leading to suicide.
  • Although social media helps to make new friends, you never know the real intentions or backgrounds of people posing as friends online. There have been many instances where youngsters have been lured into meeting dangerous people after prolonged online contact.
  • Social media usage is very addictive and leads to gross wastage of time when used uncontrolled. When alerted to a new post or tweet, it takes about 20 to 25 minutes for the average user to return to their original task.

As with any technology, there are always pros and cons. Young people need to learn to put this technology to the best use and benefit from it while avoiding its evils and pitfalls.